Friday, September 30, 2022

Altun Ha and The Community Baboon Sanctuary.

I discovered that I came to Belize during the rainy season which means we've had rains about every other day although today we had a downpour around lunch time rather than at night.  Of course, hurricane Ian just hit Florida, after doing significant damage to Cuba.  The other day, I took a tour to the local Mayan ruins in the morning and stopped for a visit at the community baboon sanctuary.  Both places were awesome.

The ruins are called Altun Ha which is a short drive outside of Belize City.  This was not a major site but most likely a small town with 8,000 to 10,000 people.  

This is the house for multiple generations of the leader.  Each level one generations living level.  When the current ruler died, the inheriting son made another level.  There are multiple buildings around the immediate area, some would house the people who served the rulers, and some would be for the people who were in the upper classes.  

In this area is a building straight across from this building which might have been for either his wife or for a woman who ruled but they are not sure.  

As this site was dug out, they found over 500 pieces of jade including a solid jade head.  The one they show at the site is actually a reproduction because the jade head was taken to Canada by the person who dug it up back in the 1920's.  The government is trying to get it back but who knows.

This is the temple associated with the community.  There are some great relief pictures on both sides of the lower level and in the middle.  The Mayans tended to like the numbers 9 and 13 and so much of their building and legends rely on those numbers.  Throughout the buildings, one sees doors and other things that are either 9 or 13.  

In fact, one belief they have is to bury the ruler and others with their tools so they can fight through nine levels of the equivalent of hell in order to move on to their new life.

This phot is take from the top of the temple, looking out on the ground where the people gathered to listen to their ruler who was at the top of the temple.  The view from up there is fantastic and just beautiful.  

To get to the top, there are stairs on each side so you climb up one set and down the others.  One does not get to go straight up the middle because they are trying to preserve the ruins.

Although I thought the middle was used for sports events, the guide told me no, they aren't. It was for meetings.
If you look carefully in the picture to the right, you can see the rulers home I had in a picture above.  The living area was on one side and the public gathering area was on the left.  

The temple I am on, is dedicated to the sun god.  Due to the size of the ruins, archeologists believe it was a smaller place because of the size.  Later in the week, I'm heading off to see the big one which is supposed to be a major Mayan site.

After this visit, we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant just outside the ruins.  The food was great.

From there we drove a short bit and went to the Community Baboon Sanctuary.  This sanctuary houses Black Howler Monkeys and not baboons but the British called the monkey's baboons and it kind of stuck.  This sanctuary is actually run by the local villagers without governmental support.

The effort began back in 1981 when two villages got together to set aside strips of land for the monkey's. Around 1986, another 6 villages joined in the effort so that there was now 20 square miles of natural jungle for the animals.  They believe there are 4,000 to 5,000 black howler monkey's in the area.

This way, the local residents are able to do their thing while the monkey's have access to their native habitat and can live nicely.  

The tour managed to find a family of black howler monkey's in the trees.  There is one alpha male, three to four females, and a bunch of children.  Usually, the units have between 2 and 11 members.

Usually the older children take care of the younger ones so they acquire the skills they need to be parents.  When the females are mature after three to four years, they leave the family unit for another unit.  When males mature between six and ten years, they leave to start their own unit.

The alpha male is the one who usually howls and his howl has been recorded as loud as 90 decibels. We heard him make noise but thank goodness it wasn't that loud.  

We saw the alpha, a female, an older child with a baby on its back, and a small one on it's own.  The small one, got on the ground and tried to play with one of the guides but then the male let loose with a howl and the little one scampered up the tree.  

I hope you enjoyed these photos.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Belize City


This past Saturday, I arrived in Belize.  Rather than staying in Belize City, I chose to stay in Ladyville which is just across the Old Belize River from the airport. I'm actually enjoying it here because it is slower paced and I have a small bungalow with a wonderful porch and a kitchen.  I was able to take a shuttle to the store and stock up on a few things like pasta, cheese, etc so I can cook all my meals since there is no restaurant that is close to here. 

I have a beautiful view of the river from the porch so I spend the evening outside enjoying the coolness.  This past Monday I arranged for a trip to see Belize City which is about 10 miles from here.  It was interesting to see how there are two distinct parts, the northern Belize City which is where big business and the wealthier people are and the southern Belize City with the older part of town and houses those who don't have much money.  

There are signs all over the place prohibiting swimming but this is the first sign that explains why swimming is prohibited.  Apparently the waters are filled with two different varieties of crocodiles and they can attack.  There are few places ones can actually swim.  If you look carefully, you will see that there is no beach, rather the water just comes up to the edge.  

There is one place in town where there is an actual beach but it is manmade and it is in a private area.  I didn't get to see it because they are closed on Mondays so I got to go to the local museum.  Our tour guide also pointed out the government is building a place for cruise ships to dock a distance away from the city but they will make it so unless people arrange tours, they will not be coming in to town anymore.  Right now, visitors come off of the cruise ships and explore town.  Unfortunately, the cruise ship that was supposed to come in tomorrow, will not be due to the storm heading for Florida.
We stopped by a light house that has a coffin at its base.  Apparently, a man, Henry Edward Earnest Victor Bliss aka The Baron Bliss is buried there.  The story goes that he arrived in Belize City back in 1926 on his yacht.  He wasn't in the best of health so locals took supplies out to his boat.  He never left the boat and died while living on it in 1926.  He left his entire estate to the country of Belize, all million or so pounds, to help it.  

He did set up requirements concerning the money he left to the country but those restrictions allowed the money to continue helping the country even up to today.  One such restriction was that the government could only spend the interest so that in 2011, the fund still had 1.5 million left. In honor of him and what he did,  they build a light house and buried his body in front of it.
There is something called the Belize Barrier Reef which is supposed to be fantastic and scuba divers have been coming to check it out for a long time.  In between the reef and shore, there are so many islands that began as fishing communities but are now tourist areas.  

Fishing is still an important way to earn money here.  There is a fishing fleet that goes out every day and then either sells it to processors or they sell it at the fish market where everyone comes to buy their fresh fish for the next day.
One thing that they do in Belize is to use buildings for other things as their original use moves on.  For instance, the photo to the right is of what used to be the prison but the prison was moved and it now houses a museum to show the history of Belize including the bringing of slaves back in the 18th and 19th centuries from Jamaica to work in the Mahogany trade.  

The stone used in the building of this prison came to the country from England and they would take the mahogany logs back to England.  Remember the river from above?  Back then, they would cut the logs down and then float them down the river to the boats where they were loaded up.  The slaves were specifically brought here to work in the trade.
The gentleman on the left in the above photo actually worked at the facility as a junior guard when he first came to Belize City about 30 years ago.  Once the prison moved to its new location, the city decided to change it into a museum which talks about the slave trade, the different groups of people, the settlement, and in the top part, they had a display of art work done by a local man who is also a musician. His work is powerful and awesome.  The last part of the upper floor had some great stuffed birds so I could see some of the native birds in the area.  

Aside from coins and such, the museum has the original Belize flag that was hung in the World Trade Center back in 2011.  When the buildings fell, the flag was found among the rubble and returned home where it is in its own display.

The country used to be British Honduras but on September 21, 1981, Belize gained its independence. Now every year beginning on September 1, the country celebrates its independence until September 21st.  

There are flags everywhere right now from that celebration.  They are on fences, flag poles, and just about everywhere they can be hung.  Although they are independent, they have both an American and British military presence which help keep them safe.  Apparently, Guatemala does not recognize their independence and claims they belong to them so they are happy having this protection.
Lastly, this is the oldest church around.  It is an Anglican Church built back in 1812 and is still in use even today.  Belize has an interesting education system.  The churches run the schools but the government provides funding.  Education is mandatory from like 5 to 16.  Many of the schools are male or female only and some are mixed, it all depends on which church is sponsoring it.

It was a really great tour.  The next tour I'm scheduled on is to see one of the local Mayan ruins and a visit to the baboon sanctuary.  Later in the week, I'll be going to see another, bigger Mayan ruin.  I look forward to seeing these places.  

I've been told I need to come back by one of the workers at the hotel so I can explore a place about 5 hours south where they make chocolate and the guide from today said I should go south to where he's from because it gives you a look at the society down there.  I am glad I chose to stay here at this quiet resort as I get to experience something more rather than spending my time at the regular hotels in Belize City.  Yes, they are closer to everything but you also get the bustle of the city rather than the laid back feel of the country.  I'll share more on Friday.  I hope you have a great day.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Staying Cool In Humid Weather


I just arrived in Belize this past Saturday.  I stepped off the plane into a humid sauna that I didn't quite expect.  I spend Sunday, just relaxing and figuring out that in the morning and afternoon, the humidity is bearable but by noon, it is humid enough to just sweat without even moving.  So it was time to find out ways to stay cool when it is humid outside.  In Alaska where I leave, there is not this level of humidity every.  

The place I'm staying has air conditioning in the rooms but once you step out, it is noticeable if it's the middle of the day.  In order to stay cool when its humid outside, it is necessary to cool your body down and your accommodation.  One way to keep your body temperature down is to drink cool liquids with cool foods. As far as liquids, you want to enjoy water - plain or fruit infused, milk, 100 percent fruit drink, coconut water, sports drinks, or caffeine free tea. It is advised that you avoid alcoholic drinks or caffeinated liquids because those can cause your body to lose electrolytes.

Instead of hot meals, look at cooler foods like cold soup, salads, or fresh fruits.  When shopping for fruits, choose ones that have lots of water like watermelon, or melons.  If you want, cut up the watermelon, melons, or other fruit, freeze them and throw them into a glass of water instead of using ice cubes.  

As far as fabrics go, look at using 100 percent cotton, or linen because both will draw sweat away from your body so it stays cooler.  If the day starts out cooler, think about wearing layers so you can remove them as necessary but make sure they are out of cotton or other natural fabric. One nice thing about cotton is that you can find it in different thicknesses from gauze to t-shirt or thicker.  Gauzy is great because it allows any breeze to flow through.  Linen is great because it doesn't stick to the skin when you are sweaty and if you go for a linen cotton mix, you can get the benefits of both.

Switch to dresses or skirts or even loose pants to allow circulation of air around your body. If you like wearing pants, look at the wider legged ones because they are more comfortable in the humid weather.  For underwear, cotton is great for underwear and switch to sports bras because they are designed to wick water from your body. 

Do not go for the hot showers. Switch to taking cooler showers to help keep your body cooled down.  If you get hot but do not want to take a shower, think about using a wet cloth on the back of your neck, under your hat, on your wrists, the inside of your elbows, or knees, the top of your feet or your ankles.  Place a damp cloth on these places and you will immediately feel cooler.  

If you have access to air-conditioning, set the temperature to a moderate level so you aren't freezing but just cooled off enough to be comfortable.  This makes it easier for you to adjust to outside temperatures because the differences are not that much. If you do not have A/C but do have fans, you can place the fans to provide you with cooler air by placing it next to a window.  This allows cool air to be brought in and older warmer air goes out.  This circulation is important. If possible, you want at least two fans so the second one can be places across the room, to move air up towards the ceiling. If you. open the windows at night to let the cool air in and close them in the morning, you can use your fans to circulate the cooler air around the room and it will keep it cooler all day long.

 In addition, so things to help your body adjust to the outdoors conditions such as doing mild exercise or take a short walk.  Each day, increase the amount of exercise you do by a little bit so that you slowly acclimate to the temperatures and humidity. The bigger the temperature differentiation, the more you notice the humidity and temperature when you leave the room and it takes longer to adjust.

Should you want to spend time outdoors, set yourself up in the shade so you don't get as hot.  Enjoy time swimming in cool water, or visit a museum, gallery, or movie where there will be cooler due to air conditioning.  If you need to do something strenuous like gardening, do it early in the morning or late at night when its cooler.

And remember, drink lots of liquids so you do not become dehydrated.  Use sunscreen of at least SPF 30  and wear a hat when you are outdoors to help protect yourself.  One other thing, use a moisture absorbing powder under your clothing and underwear to help keep you from getting rashes due to the moisture.  

Keep this in mind if you end up visiting a place that is humid so you have a great visit.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Why Take The Stairs

 Just the other week, when I was visiting Madrid, I stayed at a nice place up on the third floor.  Although the place had an elevator, I chose to use the steps most of the time because I wanted the exercise.  The first day, it was a bit difficult but by the end, it was so much easier.  I've decided to use steps whenever possible.  Now I am not going to be crazy and take the stairs up 35 flights of stairs but for anything under 5 or 10 floors, I want to take the stairs.

There are some great benefits to using the stairs beginning with the fact you do not need any special equipment.  The stairs are already part of the building.  If you repeatedly use the stairs, it accumulates across the day to make a great part of your daily workout.  If you climb at least 55 flights of stairs every week, it decreases your chance of dying prematurely.  It is considered a moderate form of exercise that burns between 8 and 11.5 kcal of energy every minute. 

Furthermore, climbing stairs help you improve your cardio capacity and you will be more fit.  They say even climbing two flights of stairs every day will help you lose up to 6 pounds over the year.  In addition, there is research indicating that stair climbing can increase your bone density while helping bring up the amount of good cholesterol.  Overall, stair climbing helps improve your overall health.

If you do not use the stairs regularly, it is suggested you start slowly by climbing only one or two flights of stairs, working your way up as you get in better shape.  If you work in a taller building, climb the steps as far as you can and take the elevator the rest of the way.  Note that you can spread taking the stairs over the day so you might do 5 flights of stairs at 6 different times over the day but if you are not feeling well, go ahead and take the elevator. Make sure you stretch your muscles before and after taking the stairs and make sure you have good posture as you climb up and down.  

The cool thing about climbing stairs is that you are burning calories going up and down the stairs. It is said you burn 0.1 calories every step you take up or 1 calorie for every 10 steps while you burn 0.05 calories or 1 calorie every 20 steps when you go down. It is a great way to burn calories.  As mentioned earlier, you significantly reduce the risk of stroke by even taking as little as 20 flights of steps every week and at the same time you are strengthening your muscles in your legs and abs while developing leaner muscle mass.  The increased muscle mass helps you burn more calories.

Furthermore, when you climb the stairs, your heart and lungs work together to take more oxygen to your muscles because you are breathing quicker and deeper. Thus your muscles are able to extract oxygen more efficiently from the blood. This helps you lower your blood pressure  If you take a quick walk up or down the stairs whenever you are feeling tired, it will help you feel more energetic and improves your mood.

In addition, regularly using the stairs can help you sleep better at night, reduce your stress level, and maintain a healthy weight. This is a cheap way to improve your health with no cost and most every building today has stairs so take advantage especially on those days when the weather is horrid and you can't get outside. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Choosing Accessories

 In order to have the perfect capsule wardrobe, it is necessary to have the right accessories.  Accessories are an easy way to either spice up your outfits or change the look with a few small items. They are chosen to complement and complete the outfit. Accessories can be footwear, handbags, jewelry, hair accessories, belts, or gloves, hats, and scarves.

Let's look at each type of accessory individually.  Normally, one might consider neutral footwear in black or brown, it is possible to elevate the outfit with a bit of color but the shoes need to be comfortable otherwise they will never be worn.

As far as handbags go, look at having different ones ranging from clutches to totes in a variety of styles and colors. This way you have eye catching handbags that provide accessories to the wardrobe and that particular outfit.  With jewelry, one can have bangles, ear rings, necklaces, and chokers that can be used to add sparkle.  If you aren't familiar with jewelry, begin with the more classic pieces such as diamond studs or hoop earrings, or a nice delicate pendant necklace.

Hair accessories can range from clips with bows or flowers to silk scrunchies instead of the standard ones. Use a jeweled hair clip for a sparkle or a velvet head band.  It is easy to switch things out to add that little bit of elevation. Then there are belts which can be thin or thick, made of leather, cloth, or chain.  The belt might be plain or embellished and perhaps in a neutral color or a bright color to add that bit of pop.  Finally, gloves, hats, and scarves are another way to add that touch needed to finish the outfit.

When it comes to accessories, you do not want all of them to sparkle or it just makes the outfit too busy.  You'll want to select accessories to create the overall look so you stand out.  When you begin choosing accessories, you want to select one statement piece that can be used with multiple outfits and makes you feel great.  Always choose one piece that dominates the outfit with color or size and layered with subtler pieces.

When choosing accessories, think about using colors or prints.  It is easy to use those bright colors or animal prints used in shoes, scarves, or a belt adds that touch of pizazz without overwhelming the overall look. Accessories can be used to transform outfits from day to night with just a small change, such as a little black dress with a blazer and flats are appropriate for work and then take off the blazer, switch out flats for heels, add sparkly jewelry, and a clutch, and you are ready to enjoy a night out.

The best thing is that accessories do not have to match.  Matching accessories indicate the person is more conservative rather than being fashion forward.  In fact, if you aren't sure, start with one color and use a color wheel to find colors you can wear together.  Keep in mind that choosing accessories is done one step at a time so as you mix and match them, everything looks awesome.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Advantages Of Having A Capsule Wardrobe.

In the last blog entry, I mentioned capsule wardrobes because they are definitely a thing.  They are actually a good thing to choose because you have certain pieces of a wardrobe which can be mixed and matched to create a large number of looks. All the pieces are selected so they go together. 

Too many of us will buy piece after piece of clothing, adding to our collection.  Many of us do not get rid of the clothing that doesn't fit anymore, is the wrong color, or we never get around to wearing so we are constantly adding to the closet.  A capsule wardrobe is a wonderful idea for so many reasons. 

One of the biggest advantages of using a capsule wardrobe is that you do not need tons of closet space to store your clothing. Instead, you can store everything in a regular sized closet including your shoes. The reality is that when you have a lot of clothes, you are only going to wear a certain number anyway so when you have fewer pieces, you actually don't have to spend a lots of time deciding what to wear. 

In addition, when you have a capsule wardrobe, you end up saving time because there are a limited number of pieces in a specific color palette which makes shopping much easier. Thus in the morning, you spend less time getting ready due to having fewer choices available.  This means you don't have to try on numerous outfits trying to decide what to wear and you won't suffer from decision fatigue.  As a result, you have more time for other things. 

Furthermore, a capsule wardrobe means you spend less money overall due to only needing a certain number of pieces.  This means you can invest money in a few quality pieces that will last much longer and you will be less likely to purchase those pieces you never wear, don't go with other pieces, or are the wrong color.   Plus, you'll only have to replace a few pieces such as shirts and accessories to change your look.  You don't have to buy a whole new wardrobe every season.

As mentioned before, it is easier to develop your personal style because it is so much easier to do that with a capsule wardrobe.  Each piece is selected to create the exact look you want when mixed with the others. Every accessory provides that finishing touch so you look put together.  In fact, having a capsule wardrobe helps build confidence because your wardrobe is designed so the pieces you choose will always look great. 

  It is also good for the planet because we are wearing each piece of clothing for a longer period of time thus reducing the demand for clothing.  A capsule wardrobe is more sustainable and places less demand for raw materials such as cotton, wool, or even synthetic fabrics.  The clothing industry uses over 20 trillion gallons a year and is responsible for about 20 percent of all water pollution.  So the less clothing we need, the less water used and the less pollution that happens.

Think about creating your own capsule wardrobe to save time, money, and frustration.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Finding Your Own Personal Style

Personal style is something everyone has but not everyone has a personal style that allows them to stand out from the rest of the crowd.  For some their personal style is comfortable, for others it is more formal, and yet for others it might be very laid back or even boho.  If you ask many people what their personal stye is, they might respond that I don't have one.  It's fairly easy to determine your personal style so if you are ever asked, you'll have an answer.  Remember that personal style simply is the way a person expresses themselves in clothing and overall look.  
One does not find their personal style overnight.  It can take a while especially if you want to adjust your personal style to express who you are to others. Personal style is not necessarily about wearing the latest fashion.  Instead it is about wearing something that is timeless and stays true to who you are. 

 One of the first things is to look in your closet.  Identify which clothing makes you feel happy, which ones do you wear more often.  What is it these pieces all have in common.  This tells you so much about your style.  I tend to wear cargo pants and t-shirts a lot simply due to the fact that when I work, I need the pockets and when I travel, the pockets are great for documents and other things.  I classify my style as casual.

Another facet to explore in regard to personal style is to look around for fashion styles.  Look at family and friends.  Go onto social media and find people who wear things you like.  It might be crop tops, work clothing, blazers, jeans, or specific shoes.  Check out fashion videos, magazines, even influencers.  I watched some fashion thing on Youtube and learned from that.  I discovered I could wear a regular pair of jeans with my usual T-shirt and match it up with a blazer, hat, and heels for a much dressier look and still have my casual clothing.

Create a fashion board with the ideas you've picked out from various sources.  Once the ideas are up there, you can look at trends shown in the ideas.  You might discover that most of your choices show women in jeans, or maxi dresses. This gives you a better idea of your personal style.  From the fashion board, select two to three images that show what you think is the style for you and place them on your phone.  You can then reference these photos when you are out shopping.

The thing about personal style is that you don't necessarily need a huge wardrobe.  Although one may see many influencers with closets and closets of outfits, most people really don't need more than a capsule wardrobe.  The nice thing about a capsule wardrobe is that it is a nice collection of basics that can be mixed and matched giving the impression of a much larger wardrobe. A good starting place is with the pieces you already have in your wardrobe.  The pieces you love and use a lot. Make a list of basics you have and then decide what pieces you need.  

At this point, the only thing left is to add a few unique pieces to emphasize your style.  This might consist of bold accessories, pops of color, or a mixing and matching of fabrics such as prints with textures.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  If one idea doesn't work, try something else until it all comes together.  Finally, don't get discouraged because it does not happen overnight.  It will take some time. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

What Snacks Should You Pack For Your Plane Trip


It seems like many airlines in the United States, only provide low quality snacks like small packages of mixed pretzels and other breaded items.  They are heavily salted and I really don't need something that leaves a mess when I'm done. Some airlines allow you to purchase plates of things but usually the cost is kind of on the high side. The way around that is to bring your own snacks.  

The type of snacks you choose to bring depends on whether you are flying domestic or international.  For instance, if you are flying internationally, you have to watch things like nuts, seeds, or dairy products because some countries do not want you to have them on you when you land.  You also have to watch TSA because I once had a TSA agent tell me that if you bring a piece of pie, like a peach or cherry pie with the jelly like filling, they might not let you take it on because the agent may classify it as a "gel". 

So in general, you'll want things that are healthier for you. For instance, it is a good idea to pack some source of protein such as crackers and cheese, sliced meat and crackers, or even protein bars.  If you pack your own cheese, you can slice it ahead of time and you can choose crackers that do not fall apart easily and leave a mess.   If you go for protein bars, check the back to make sure it doesn't have too much sugar or fat and that it won't make tons of crumbs all over.

Think about packing fruit but make sure it is fruit that travels well such as apples, bananas, or grapes.  You can slice the apple and place the slices in a ziplock bag while bananas don't need anything done to them. As far as grapes, make sure they are washed before you pack them. I've taken blueberries and placed some in a small container so they were not crushed.  The same goes for fruit such as cherries.

On the other hand, if you don't want to mess with fresh fruit, dried fruit is available.  It is easy to transport and tastes good. It can also satisfy a sweet tooth.  Look at dried dates, mango, apricot, peaches, or whatever you can find. Dried fruit is relatively light and doesn't add a ton of weight.

If you want to take veggies cut into sticks, they are fine but should you want hummus or peanut butter to accompany them, you have to keep this under 3 ounces otherwise the TSA will confiscate them.  Just for your information, there is powdered peanut butter, you can add water to to reconstitute it.  I'm not saying it is a fantastic product but it does the job if you really like peanut butter and you can reconstitute it once you've gone through security.

Then one can always make small snack sized bags of things like goldfish, graham crackers, cheese-its or other munchy snack.  If you use the small snack sized bags, it gives you a nice sized portion but if you are traveling with children, the small snack sized bags allow each child to have their own serving and they don't have to share.  You can package the small bags in one larger quart bag to keep them together.  

There is on law that says you can't take a sandwich with you for something more solid. The thing to remember through all this is that whatever you take, it needs to last for several hours and can be eaten safely then.  This is important because you have to take into account the time between when you put the snacks together and when the flight leaves the ground.

The most important consideration when bringing snacks with you is to make sure you decide what you want to bring ahead of time so you have time to shop and prepare it. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, September 12, 2022


 Although I've been doing a lot of international traveling this year, I did throw in a couple of short local trips because my family wanted to pop down to a restaurant just south of Denali National Park. The restaurant had a French trained chef and we were told the food there was awesome.  So one day, we took off after making sure we had a reservation for dinner.

We left early enough so we could make a couple of stops on our way such as checking out the visitors center in Denali and the science building with dinosaurs.  We also made a stop at a place called Glitter Gulch with lots of shops including one that made great fudge. We made it in time for dinner at mile post 229, had dinner and drove home.

It took us one day and we had a blast.  When you can't take time off to travel very far, one can still get away by taking a day trip.  A day trip gets you away, gives you a change, and doesn't have to cost much more than the gas, possibly meals, and perhaps admission to something.  It all depends.  A day trip does require some planning but the rewards can be quite nice.

First of all, decide how far you are willing to travel to your destination.  Ours was a couple hundred miles south and quite doable. In addition, is everyone going on the trip an adult or will there be kids?  How old are the kids?  Are they used to taking trips or do they start driving you crazy after a couple of hours in the car?  These are things to consider when setting your destination?  

The next thing to look at is what activity do you want to do?  If you aren't sure what activities are at your destination, go online and look.  This will help you figure out what you want to do.  Is there a museum with a dinosaur exhibit?  A place that celebrates Christmas all year round?  An amusement park?  Search for any type of activity you can from museums, to farmers markets, to rodeos, and more.  Prepare a list of possibilities and then decide which one or ones would be the best for your group.  I have siblings who take day trips to a few places so they can pick up certain wines they can't find locally.

After you've decided on where and what, think about meals.  Will you be eating at a nice restaurant or somewhere that is easier like McDonalds because your children are with you?  Do you have the money to spend or will you bring a cooler with supplies in it so you can pull into a rest area or park and enjoy a meal. There is no rule that says you have to eat out all the time.

You are going to need to plan a budget which includes admission fees, gas, food, and possibly souvenirs plus a bit extra for emergencies.  Not all things require admission fees but it is important to know if the place you chose does charge them and how much. Is the rate going to be per person or do they offer a family rate that is better than multiple individual rates?  Do they offer a better price for under a certain age or possibly even free with an adult?  If you are going to a museum or zoo, it might be cheaper to get a family membership if that membership includes two or three free admissions as part of the perks.

Think about the route you will take.  Sometimes, there is only one route to get there such as when we went to Denali Park, while other times you may have several options.  You want to look at all possibilities because sometimes there are cool things located along one route but not another. When I was in Utah and we took a day trip, on one route, there was a place with space missiles so we went that way to the place where the railroads from the east and west met.  Once we were done, we headed back via a slightly different route to see other things.

Before you actually leave home, check the car out. Make sure it has enough gas, the oil is topped off, the tires are in good shape and even take it in for a regularly scheduled tune up a bit before its due so your vehicle is in good shape.  In addition, check to see if your roadside assistance is up to date and you have the necessary phone numbers in case there is a problem.

Last thing to look at is what do you need to bring.  Will you need swimsuits, jackets, snacks?  Are you bringing your own food so you'll need a cooler. Are the little ones likely to fall asleep while traveling?  You might want to throw in a pillow and personal blanket.  On the day, have a check list of everything that needs to go into the car, and go down the list to make sure everything is in there.  

Do this and you will have done everything possible to have a fantastic trip. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Side Street

 Madrid has lots of small side streets throughout the area. My hotel is on a street just like this.

Friday, September 9, 2022

3rd part of Gran Via

 This building with Schweppes written on it, is where the third part of the Gran Via starts. It is the part often called Broadway because there are lots of theaters that people can go see Broadway plays in Spanish. It was completed in the 1950’s.

Things To Think About When Traveling.


No matter how often or how infrequently you travel, problems always arise.  The problem might be as simple as your flight being delayed a bit to something more serious like your flight being totally cancelled and you can't get out for several days. Some problems can be solved others cannot.  I'll be discussing both types of problems because we don't think about them but they do happen.

One problem that comes up is getting lost.  Some folks have a lousy sense of direction like my mother.  No matter how great a sense of direction you have, you are probably going to get lost at least once in your life. One of the easiest solutions is to download Google Maps so you can access it offline.  This means if you can get help if you are not sure where you are.  I had a paper map with me today as I explored Madrid because the hotel gave me one to show me where to go get a SIM card for my phone.  I used it to make sure I got there and later on I used it to make sure I was heading in the right direction.

Of course, there is always the issue of delayed, cancelled, or is unreliable.  This is a hurdle all of us face at one time or another and it is harder if you end up in a place where you do not speak the language or are quite rusty.  The best way to take care of this if you are in a city, is to know about the different ways of getting around from taxi, to bus, to the metro depending on where you are.  This way is a bus is delayed, you can switch over to to the metro or vice versa.  As far as airlines, depending on where you are, you might have to look at a train or bus should your flight be cancelled and you cannot get rebooked for several days.  

If you forget something important like your meds, CPAP machine, etc, there may not be a lot you can do depending on where you are.  If you are in the states, you can make a call to your house and have someone FEDEX it or Ship it USPS overnight but if you are overseas, that is much harder.  This is why it is important to have a list and check it twice, thrice, or more.  I pack my meds several days ahead of time, keeping only the ones I will take over the next couple of days out.  I have a set of chargers for home and a set for traveling that is left in my suitcase all the time.  This includes several very portable ones I can use all over the world.  If it is something you cannot pack till the last minute, make sure you leave a note on your mirror, your luggage, and on the steering wheel to remind yourself to take these. If you forget things like shampoos, etc, those are easy to pick up on your travels. 

When you travel overseas, many countries allow you to use your credit card for everything but in others, it may not work so one has to figure out how to exchange currencies.  There used to be a website I could order on line, pay $9.99 and it would be sent to me but due to the pandemic, they closed.  So you can exchange it at the airport before you leave or after you arrive.  Some places allow you to use your charge card to get monies while others only deal in cash.  When I arrived in Spain, information at the airport told me to do it in town because the rates are better.  Although there are lots of places, I found one that didn't charge a commission and it worked well.  On the other hand, if you have a bank, you might check to see if they have a way you can get foreign currency through them.  

This is important to think about because some countries operate more in cash then they do with credit cards and some places will charge an extra fee if you use a credit card from another country some don't. It is something that helps to know ahead of time.  In Fiji, they charged a 3% fee anytime I used a credit card but I don't see that here in Spain.  

There are more that I will look at another time.  These are mostly for international travel because I am doing a lot of it right now.  Let me now what you think, I'd love to hear from you.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Eating Well While Traveling

 It is often difficult to eat properly while traveling for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it has to do with wanting to try everything you see.  Other times it has to do what you can find, or what you feel safe eating.   It is important that one try to eat in a healthy manner while traveling so you stay in good shape and do not put on extra pounds.  My mother, when she went to Europe in her twenties, gained something like 20 to 30 pounds and never lost it. 

I follow certain things so that I do not gain weight while traveling.  I admit that bakeries with fresh baked goods, ice cream or other frozen deserts, or nice meals that call my name.  Sometimes I can't resist so I try to remind my self of my rules so that I stay healthier.

Instead of eating foods that can be microwaved, or are processed, look for foods that are less processed such as yoghurt, cheese, bread, fruits, lean meats, or salads.  This is especially important at airports when you are in transit.  As people, we are attracted to convince foods because they taste good and we forget about the healthier alternatives.  If you opt for a salad, think about using less salad dressing or stick with a plain oil and vinegar or other such one.

Another thing is to try to eat on a regular schedule so you are less likely to impulse snack.  In addition, avoid heavy sauces and think about portion sizes.  You do not need to eat huge portions.  When you are ordering food, do you need one whole serving or is it a dish you can share with someone.  Do you need two scoops of ice cream or is one enough? Instead, think about smaller sizes so you don't get to stuffed and you won't get hungry. Always pack some high protein snacks like hard boiled eggs, cheese, and fresh fruits or vegetables.

Furthermore, always drink lots of liquids, especially water to stay hydrated.  When you are hydrated, you are less likely to have cravings for junk food and you are less likely to be bloated. Take a refillable bottle so you can always have water.  It is easy to refill bottles as you go along your trip.  When you sit down to eat, take your time enjoying the meal, even on a plane.  You want to take time to enjoy the flavors fully otherwise you won't remember much about the meal.

When you travel, it is so easy to over indulge. Think about having a treat or desert once a day while eating healthy foods throughout the day.  If you are in a new place, look at downloading an app to help you find a good place to eat.  Since I often travel overseas, I keep an app on my phone to help me find vegetarian and vegan restaurants or places that offer these type of options.

Watch the amount of caffeine, processed foods, and sugary items to help you sleep better at night. If you find yourself indulging, do not get mad at yourself.  Just start again and go for it because we all slip up.  I have trouble at bakeries when they have those beautifully decorated cakes, especially if they are chocolate. 

If you buy hot food at the airport, remember, you should always eat it within two hours or the amount of bacteria could start growing and you might end up with food poisoning. If you pop out to a store, look for precut and packaged fruits and vegetables, buy whole fruit with skin or a peel that can be removed. Ask for a mini fridge to be put in your room so you can store your purchased items.  This way they will remain safe.

Take care when you are traveling.  Look for those dishes that are healthier options and do not get discouraged.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Sunday, September 4, 2022


 Do you remember jumping into piles of fall leaves?  I do.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Friday, September 2, 2022

Staying Safe In Your Hotel Room.

 I've been traveling quite a lot this year.  Sometimes I travel by myself and sometimes I travel with others. Either way, there are somethings I do to help keep myself free.  Over the years, I have staying in places that were quite local and in an area not to far from the druggies hang out to really nice top of the line places such as Marriott or Hyatt.  No matter where I stay, I do things to make sure I am safe.

These tips can be utilized when you travel alone or with friends.  The first tip is to keep track of your luggage and purse at all times. Never have your luggage behind you, keep it next to you so no one can grab it and run off with it.  Keep your purse on you if you can.  I once left my purse with my luggage and had a companion watch them but she got to talking and when I came back, my purse had been stolen.  Since then, I keep my purse with me so it doesn't go missing.

It is best to request a room located anywhere on floors 2 to 6 because rooms on the first floor are most often broken into and if there is a fire and the fire department has to help you get out of the room, their ladders only really go up to the 6th floor.  In addition, if the place has outdoor room access, it is too easy for people to break into the first floor rooms so stay on the second or higher floor.

At checkin, take a couple of hotel cards so one can go into your wallet and the other you can put on the table next to the phone.  This information is important to have available should you need to call the police, fire department, or even order in a meal.  When you go into the room, check it out completely before you close the door.  Look in the bathroom, behind the curtains, the closet, everything incase there is a bug infestation such as bedbugs, broken doors or windows,  or to find someone who might have hidden in the room.  It is best to check for anomalies. 

After you close the door, check the safety guide to see where you have to do if there is a fire or you need to evacuate the room due to an emergency.  Also, keep the curtains closed so no one can see into your room.  The hotel always leaves the curtains open when the room to signal it is empty so always close them.  It also provides you with privacy.  

Instead of relying on the public wifi provided by the hotel, carry your own VPN (Virtual privacy network) to add that extra layer of security.  It is too easy for criminals to hack your personal information when you use public wifi so using a VPN is so much safer and makes it less likely you will be hacked.  This is especially true when you are in certain countries.

Consider bringing a rubber door stop to place in the door so no one can easily get in and be sure to activate the dead bolt because you do not want anyone to walk in to your room in the middle of the night. Sometimes its because the front desk misread the room number and gives people access via a key or card. It does happen.  I checked into a hotel in Hawaii kind of late and the front desk accidentally gave us the keys to a room that already had people in it so image everyone's surprise when I walked in.

If someone knocks on your door and you are not expecting anyone or didn't order a meal in, do not answer it.  If they claim to work for the hotel, you can call the front desk to verify someone is supposed to be there.  I've discovered that most hotel doors have a peep hole to check on the hallway side of the door.  I usually look through to see if it is housekeeping, or security.  If I don't recognize the person out there as being with the hotel, I call down to the front desk.

Furthermore, take time to get to know the people working there, stopping to chat a bit and tip them so they are more willing to help you should it become necessary.  Keep your phone handy so you can use it to provide light should it be needed. This is important should there by an emergency or you have to get out of the building in the middle of the night or there is a power failure.  

When you leave the room for the day or for anything, place the do not disturb sign on the door, leave the television on low so it appears as if there is someone in the room.  If you have valuables, lock them up in the hotel safe.  Valuables might include your computers, digital devices, money, jewelry, etc.  You do not want to lose them because someone broke in and took them.

So use all or some of these tips to help you stay safer during your travels.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.