Posts tagged: vacation

Retreat

By , March 15, 2013

Last weekend I had a wonderful retreat.

My folks were headed to the mountains for the weekend and my kitty and I went along with them. I didn’t realize how much I needed that dose of nature. My heart has been heavy lately with worry and too much of the ‘big stuff’ on my mind, and getting out of my usual daily pattern and having a fun little vacation really lifted me up. We all had a wonderful time!!

Kiss the kitteh!

These icicles were bent. Weird!

One day it snowed. It’s a shame I was too lazy to go outside and get a proper picture of this enchanted forest at dawn in the snowfall. Instead I took the photo through the window screen. Ug. Next time!

***

What have you all been up to lately??

*****

Gratitude Sunday * July 1, 2012

By , July 1, 2012

~ I’m once again joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition. ~

Gratitude Sunday is a time to slow down and remember those thankful moments that graced our week. One reason I love keeping a daily gratitude journal is because it helps keep things in perspective for me. Each Sunday, I open my journal and share some of those moments with you here. If you’d like to join in, just leave a comment!

Gratitude is powerful energy. I love hearing others’ gratitudes!

***

~

– I’m so thankful for the most incredible trip we had to Hawaii. It was so renewing on so many levels. And FUN!!! Oh gosh. And so, so beautiful. I’ll share some pictures soon~

– The place where we house-sat. It was a gorgeous house that could be straight out of a magazine, on 3 acres, no visible neighbors, a wonderful organic garden, and a swimmable stream running through! OH man. I kept thinking, Can this be real?! You can see part of it up there in the top picture. That’s F lounging there, beneath one of the almost-daily rainbows! It was most truly a paradise. We soaked up every second of it.

– F and me, just being on vacation together. It was just so fun!

– For F doing all the driving; he’s such a good driver.

– Sleeping with plumerias around my head each night, and wearing them in my hair. Having their tropical scent around me. *sigh*

– Star gazing, and watching a meteor shower together at 2am, with the entire huge black sky and almost no light pollution.

– The tropical fruit! We ate gallons and gallons of tropical fruit — I had no idea a mango could be that fantastically delicious. And the papayas! I have never eaten fruit that delicious.

– That everything during our house-sitting time went so smoothly. Not one single thing went wrong; for that I am very thankful!

– Getting home safe and sound.

– No ants! In Hawaii, there are bugs. In your house. And lots and lots of ants. In your house. Leave one crumb, and very soon your counter has a pile of ants. I have a very new appreciation for Colorado being relatively bug-free! No ants… oh it’s so nice.

– The winds of change; they’ve been blowing good things in! More to come on that, too.

– Being surprised that I wasn’t too bummed to be home; I thought I would be. It does feel good to be home — although I do get pangs of longing for the home we stayed at and the fun times we had there!

– A special day today — my dad’s belated Father’s Day. Mom and I took him to lunch, then we went back to their house and opened presents from Hawaii which was really fun! I am so thankful for my dad. We share a deep bond. He’s just the very best and I love him so.

– Feeling optimistic. What a nice feeling that is — one I haven’t felt too much of these past couple years, truth be told.

– The little window air conditioner in our apartment. Because it has been very hot here!

***

What’s been on your gratitude list lately? Care to share?

*****

Aloha to you!

By , June 20, 2012

Just a little bit of a check-in today, as we continue to love our time here in Hawaii!! We have seen some incredible scenery here, and now that we’re settled into our house sitting ‘home-away-from-home,’ we’re really just kicking back and relaxing. It feels so good, and it’s something we’ve both been long overdue for. Mornings here for me usually consist of lying out in the sunshine on the grass and then taking a cold, invigorating swim in the stream at the bottom of the yard, and then taking an outdoor shower amidst the orchids and bromeliads that live outside year-round here. Then I’ll brew some tea, and drink it along with a bowl of local papaya with plain yogurt, lime juice (fresh from the tree in the yard!), and grated ginger. Or, a beautiful salad from their organic garden. It feels so good to be here; so healing to ones spirit. It’s a gorgeous house in an incredible location. A little piece of paradise, really. What a gift this is!

Here are a few photos of what we’ve been feasting our eyes upon:

Hanalei Valley, Kauai. Taro is grown in the fields down there.

At the north end of Kauai

Hiking on the Na Pali coast, Kauai

Our tropical fruit! All this stuff is local. Hawaii has some of the most incredible fruit you've ever tasted; I wish we got stuff like this on the Mainland. In the center there's coconut meat from a coconut I found on the beach and hacked into!

Reading about taro in "Edible Hawaiian Islands" magazine, with tea, out on the lanai (patio), with the stream in the background. This is truly the life...

*****

Our Airplane Food

By , June 9, 2012

Yay, we’re headed out pretty soon for Hawaii! We like taking our own food, so this is what we’ve got for the 2 hours at the airport plus the 7 1/2 hour flight:

Salads (all homegrown – lettuce, chives, oregano, dill, parsley)

Grapes

Watermelon, pears, and peaches

Raspberries

Halved lemons to squeeze onto the salads

Larabars

Homemade concord grape fruit leather

Cashews

Pepperjack cheese slices

Wasa crackers

Slices of sprouted grain bread

Whole Wheat Gingerbread muffin

Some little sweet treats

***

I love eating my own food on the plane and it feels good to be taking all this good stuff. Plus we can re-use the containers while we’re travelling too — for picnics or whatever… and then fill them back up with tropical Hawaiian goodness to eat on the plane ride back. (Or with sea shells, as the case may turn out to be…)

*****

Beach Day!

By , August 5, 2011

I have to tell you about a really wonderful day this week! My mom had emailed me saying “wanna go swimming tomorrow?” DO I! I could hardly sleep I was so excited, I felt like a little kid. It was an extremely hot day the next day and we drove to a reservoir that had a swimming beach. We had the best time! When was the last time you went swimming in a lake?? Ages ago? Me too. It’s much more fun than a swimming pool and different than ocean swimming (more serene, no rip tides). We did pause — only for a second! — to remark about the water (“it’s…GREEN”) but tossed precaution aside and went in. We were both literally squealing in delight, it felt so good to be in water!!!

Yummy snack…

After being in the water, I soaked in the sun on the beach and evened out my farmer’s tan got some vitamin D. I forgot how delicious it feels to lie in the hot sun after being in the water — like a sun sauna!

After swimming we took a little walk through a bog into a very quiet, very still, very enchanted meadow where two mama deer were grazing with their fawns.

Unfortunately the place was absolutely infested with mosquitoes, so we hardly spent any time here, even though it was so enchanting and inviting.

Quick, get a picture of this place so we can look at it later!” we only half joked, while swatting at arms and legs!

After that we went to Whole Foods for lunch!

I felt like I was on vacation the entire time. And I could just feel the damage being undone from some of those stressful workdays where I’d go outside at lunch and cry! What a wonderful day of rejuvenation and joy…

🙂

*****

Back From Argentina!

By , December 17, 2010

Lost in the chaotic back streets of Buenos Aires

Boy it’s been a whole month since I posted! We got back from Argentina a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been getting things back in order, plus relaxing and enjoying the Christmas season!

We had such a great time on our trip! There were many things we observed and made note of, and I’ve listed them here if anyone’s interested. Just observations about the country. There are more pictures after the text.

We* ended up driving almost 3,200 miles from Buenos Aires down the east coast to Peninsula Valdez where we saw penguins, then west through Patagonia (route 25) to the Andes, then through the Pampas back to Buenos Aires.

*I was the map-reader and in fact did precisely NONE of the driving; F. did it all, despite the insane drivers, complete lack of stop signs, and basically no road rules. I was so sure we were going to get into an accident, but amazingly we didn’t. My Hubby is such a good driver! Wow.

Argentina was NOT cheap like everyone had said, however. Prices for everything (even in places well off the beaten path) were comparable to the United States. The nature there was first-rate, however. Beautiful! We loved seeing different animals in the wild, including guanacos, rheas (like ostriches), flamingos, penguins, whales, parakeets, sea lions, tarantulas, an armadillo, a stork, vultures, cara-caras, vermillion fly catchers, etc.

Some Random Observations:

Argentina is very Italian (say “Ciao!”). It’s all about pasta, pizza, ham-n-cheese -everything, and croissants. We ate enough ham & cheese cold cuts and croissants to last us a lifetime.

This country consumes a LOT of sugar! It’s everywhere, and in everything. And they love their helado (ice cream) and dulce de leche (carmelized milk & sugar)!

They don’t seem to be much into fresh food or vegetables. Salads are a little bit of wilty lettuce topped with mountains of ham and cheese, topped with, strangely, distilled white vinegar and corn(!) or vegetable oil. Canned fruit was usually the thing, rather than fresh. I was consistently underwhelmed by the selection and quality of fresh produce — and none of it was organic that I saw.

Despite the perfect climate and rich soil, I only saw a handful of backyard gardens and a couple of backyard fruit trees. Why don’t people grow their own food?

The supermarkets are crammed with processed foods laden with sugar, preservatives, partially hydrogenated oils, and white flour, with seemingly no healthier alternatives.

Milk is mostly all ultrapasteurized, sold in aseptic bags or in boxes on the shelf. And I stocked up when I could find plain yogurt with no sugar added!

I didn’t see organic anything. The organic/local foods/whole foods/fresh foods/no-GMO thing hasn’t reached Argentina yet, it seems. They do have Gluten-Free down pat, though.

No health food stores… none that I saw anyway.

They drink a lot of mate (pronounced mah-tay), anywhere and everywhere, all the time, usually with friends, preferably outside, but also at work and in the car.

Spanish is spoken with an Italian accent. And the double L sound is pronounced “sh” rather than “y”. Calle (“street”) is pronounced “kah-shay” instead of “kah-yay.”

The driving is completely nuts, reckless, and downright scary, but people are generally paying attention and usually not on their cell phones.

The road signage throughout the country is minimal, confusing, and often just plain stupid.

There are no stop signs at intersections, lanes are optional, red lights are sometimes disregarded — as are pedestrians — and it’s very much a “me first” attitude. I’m still completely amazed that we weren’t involved in an accident.

That said, the people (when not in their cars) seemed really nice everywhere we went. We didn’t really run into the machismo attitude we’d read about, although perhaps that’s because we were traveling as a couple. I got a few wolf whistles but mostly I just noticed that the men were courteous in general, and held the door for me.

Seat belts, car seats, and helmets are seen only occasionally.

Buenos Aires has a Parisian look to it, but the buildings are dirty and run down, perhaps from the air pollution?; the city is much prettier at night when you can’t see the dirt!

We drank the water everywhere with no problem.

All gas stations are full service. All cars are manual transmission.

What they call “NAFTA” is the regular gasoline we’re used to in the States; it’s expensive at around US$4+ a gallon. GNC (compressed natural gas) is also widely available (and usually a quarter of the price as NAFTA), and many cars use that as fuel.

In general, Argentinians are thin, easy on the eyes, and casually fashionable. Most have European blood.

The traffic lights will turn yellow before they turn red, but also again before they turn green.

Waiters will let you linger at a restaurant as long as you want; if you want the check, you’ll have to ask for it. The strange “table fee” added to your bill is for the bread, use of the table, clean silverware & plates, etc. It’s not the tip. It’s customary to tip at least 10% at a restaurant.

Police stations are in every town, no matter how small. There are lots of police “checkpoints” (though they seemed pretty laid-back).

Lots of toll roads, especially around Buenos Aires.

In Argentina they like to nickel and dime you for everything; however, parking was free, even at the beach!

No smoke detectors in hotel rooms.

Lots of cows eating lush, green grass. Famous grass-fed beef. However, they’re just getting into the feedlot-factory-farming thing — cringe!

Seemingly no emissions regulations on vehicles. The air is downright acrid in Buenos Aires.

Lots of dirty, run-down, soviet-style apartment blocks. Dead, soviet-looking building carcasses litter the landscape; too decrepit to resurrect, no money to tear them down.

The feel of the whole country is “not enough money.” This is thanks to their recent, turbulent political history.

Prices ARE NOT CHEAP! We read so many things that said “Argentina is cheap.” Well, Argentina is NOT cheap. Even in the small towns that are off the beaten path. Its prices are absolutely comparable to the US, except for electronics which are outdated and yet cost twice what they cost in the US. Jobs are evidently hard to come by, and people don’t make much money. We honestly don’t know how they survive. Thus, the look of “poor” throughout the country.

Siesta is every afternoon. Stores close for about four hours and then re-open later in the evening. They still put in a 40-hour work week though.

Argentinians are night owls; they eat late and stay up very late.

Dogs run free. There are dogs everywhere, napping on sidewalks, crossing streets, playing in groups, just “out and about.” Some are stray, some aren’t; all look happy!

Our Peugeot rental car

Somewhere in Buenos Aires

Mar del Plata

Driving along the beach, south of Mar del Plata (?)

Ubiquitous dirty apartment blocks -- these are in not-so-scenic Necochea

Pastry with dulce de leche -- the best deal in Argentina at only US$1

Someone's backyard behind the gas station. Can't remember where...

Every store had an entire aisle devoted to cheap vegetable oils. Only 75 cents US for a bottle. Not your thing? Then try the blocks of margarine in the refridgerated section!

Milk is sold in bags. Almost all of it ultrapasteurized; pasteurized (like the stuff above) is rare.

We stayed in Puerto Pyramides on Peninsula Valdez. I particularly loved this leg of our trip. Our room was right on the beach and we watched whales from our balcony!

We saw lots of sweet penguins at Peninsula Valdez!! Gorgeous water, too. (And very, very windy!)

Patagonia does feature a lot of nothing.

In the Andes, with Bariloche in the distance. It was SO windy! And the water really is that beautiful color.

Typical Argentinian hotel buffet breakfast. Ham & cheese, croissants (not pictured), canned fruit, sweetened drinkable yogurt, breads, and sugary pastries filled with dulce de leche.

The Pampas sometimes looked like the grassland prairie of the American midwest, while in other places (like here near Santa Rosa) it looked like the African savanna with lots of Acacia. (And notice the flamingos in the water in the bottom left hand corner of the picture!)

Old gas station with Che Guevara posters in the city of Chivilcoy.

Going to Argentina on Friday!

By , November 16, 2010

We have a big trip planned!! We’re leaving for Argentina on Friday and will be there for a little over 2 weeks. We’ve been talking about this trip for a long time, but only last week did we actually bite the bullet and buy our tickets. And then only last night did we really begin hammering out an itinerary. We’re still working on that part! Guess that leaves the plane ride to brush up on my extremely minimal Spanish. F used to speak fluent Spanish but not anymore. Though I’m sure we’ll get by OK!

At first we were planning to wing it completely with the itinerary, but realized that not having a plan would waste a lot of precious time (and probably money) because we want to see many different places with only 2 weeks to do it! I think having a rough plan will cut down on stress, too.

We’re going down there primarily to scope it out as a possible place to live. We’d like to be in the countryside (with several acres), but within reasonable distance from a good-sized city. We like smaller towns, but with a progressive mindset. And preferably near a beach! So we’ll be looking around in the area south of Buenos Aires and north of Bahia Blanca. Any recommendations? Have you been there? Know of a good spot to visit? Leave a comment and let us know!

The rest of the trip, then, will be sightseeing and getting a feel for the rest of the country. We’ll see some penguins in the south, the Lakes District in the west, and possibly Iguazu Falls in the northern jungle. If you have any recommendations regarding these places, too, please leave a comment!!

It’ll be a whirlwind trip! I think we’ll both be glad when we’re finally on the plane. We’ve been in trip-plan mode pretty heavily these past couple days, and as F and I both keep remembering more and more things we need to do, it’s getting overwhelming! Trip planning stresses me out, and traveling often stresses me out, too. I love travel, but I’m also a homebody and get easily overwhelmed. But gosh, I do love being out in the world seeing new places!

Preparing for this trip has been a little easier than previous trips, though. I’ve done the solo backpacking thing through New Zealand and some of Australia, so I know what to pack…already have everything I need…and have done it before and know the drill. SO helpful!

Anyway, our itinerary will still be fairly open, so if you have any pointers about places to see, or travel tips for Argentina, leave a comment!

An Autumn Road Trip!

By , October 17, 2010

Last weekend (Oct 8-11) we went on the most wonderful little road trip through our beautiful state of Colorado! It was a spur-of-the-moment decision; we didn’t have a plan, or even a map! We just got up and went.

Thursday night Hubby came home talking about a trip to the mountains to see the fall colors, and by Friday afternoon we had rented a car and were on the road. Although we had originally planned to camp, we decided not to when we got up to Breckenridge and there were snowflakes in the air! The aspen leaves are done, and winter has arrived up there; it was awfully cold! We needed to go south if we were going to see any fall colors. And so Saturday was a beautiful drive down through the Arkansas river valley past Buena Vista and onto Gunnison where we stayed the night. We were up early Sunday morning and on the road by 8am, stopping for breakfast and tea at a little coffee shop in town, which is something we never do normally, so it really felt like vacation. And being on vacation always makes me re-appreciate hot tea! I normally drink multiple cups of tea throughout the day whenever I want — but on vacation, hot tea becomes a commodity because it’s not readily available. It’s nice when you gain a whole new appreciation for something in your everyday life, isn’t it!

Anyway, Sunday we drove to Ouray in the southwestern area of the state – stopping many times along the way to take pictures and absorb the beauty and the fall colors. There’s such a variety of landforms in that area; I had no idea! The huge and jagged San Juan mountains were an incredible sight. And Ouray! What a place! It’s a sweet little historic town from the late 1800s, dwarfed by steep canyon walls all around. It’s aptly called the Switzerland of America, and even has a Matterhorn look-alike peak. If you find yourself in Colorado sometime, go to Ouray! Even if you live in Colorado, it’s a great destination. I had no idea how beautiful that part of our state is!

While looking for a place to stay the night in Ouray, we stumbled upon the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and asked to see a few of their rooms. They were a little out of the price range we wanted to spend, but upon seeing the little cabin on the hill with screen door and wood burning stove, we had to have it. At $200 a night, it was somewhat overpriced we thought — a definite splurge — but the experience was great. I dream of one day living in a place like that, and it was so fun to “play house” in it, even for just one night. Staying in that little cabin in nature, my heart got a taste of what it loves…and it was very hard to leave and drive back home. Very hard; tears were shed!

One’s heart does not lie; when you’re doing something against your heart’s will, it hurts. F. and I long to quit our rat-race jobs, buy property, and live closer to the earth. It’s been getting pretty difficult lately to get up and go to work each morning since it’s really not what my heart loves (he’s in the same situation with his job too)…but earning and saving money for a homestead is our priority right now. We yearn for a piece of land where we can have chickens, goats, gardens, fruit trees, and a creek for fishing; a slower pace, closer to nature. The desire is screaming louder and louder. It’s hard when you know you’re moving toward something you want, but you’re not close enough yet to see how it’s all going to work out.

Anyway, that’s a topic for another day. Here are some pictures from our much-needed getaway!

Breckenridge from our balcony

Highway 285 south of Fairplay

Lunch on the road: Garden tomato, Comte cheese, avocado, sourdough bread, salt & pepper.

Highway art! An artificial Christmas tree branch, flattened and spontaneously shaped into a sculpture by car tires.

Poncha Springs area

Summit of Monarch Pass

Dillon Pinnacles

Near Ridgway, CO

Ouray, CO

Wiesbaden Hot Springs Hill House

Inside the Hill House cabin

Rustic candlelight dinner in the cabin: grilled sausage, boiled potatoes with butter, sauteed onions. Tea lights in a sierra cup. A bouquet of autumn leaves. Our kind of romance! 🙂

Baby deer with Mom and another female, right next to our cabin!

This deer came within a foot of my outstretched hand!

Camping Trip Supply List

By , September 2, 2010

Well gosh, it’s a little late in the season to be posting a camping supply list, but if anyone is going camping over the Labor Day weekend, it might help. I came up with the list (in no particular order!) based on what we took on our recent camping trip, so this will pretty much cover all your bases.

tent

tarp (optional, but nice to have something to put the tent on so you don’t track dirt inside and all over your sleeping bags)

water — roughly a gallon per person per day or more, for drinking/cooking/washing

sleeping bags or bed rolls

inflatable pads to go under your sleeping bag

pillows

toilet paper

trowel/small shovel (if there aren’t outhouses, bring a trowel to dig a 6” deep hole for when nature really calls)

unscented baby wipes for “dry showers”

bath towels

kitchen hand towel

coleman stove

extra gas or propane if needed

coleman lantern (optional if you have flashlights)

fire extinguisher

matches

pots and pans as needed

potholder if needed (or use kitchen towel as a pot holder)

tupperware or ziploc bags for leftovers

cooler

food

measuring cup/measuring spoons if needed

metal spatula

ladle

steak knife or slicing knife

silverware

napkins

dish soap (we like Dr. Bronners because it’s gentle on the environment, and can be used for dishes, hands, bodies, hair, toothpaste, etc)

sponge

trash bags

2 flash lights

cups or mugs

plates and/or bowls

rope for clothesline if needed

collapsible chairs if your site doesn’t have a picnic table

bug spray

salt & pepper

oil for cooking

[UPDATE: rain ponchos are handy, too!]

What are your camping essentials?

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