While the age-old saying about hindsight being 20/20 is often used, the roll-over of the new year gives it an entirely new meaning. Regardless of what you personally think of the past year, there are likely some choices you would have made differently. This is true for any year, but especially given the horrific one we had.
Are there thing I would have changed? Not many. I would not have remained in Yuma throughout the summer; day after day of 115 degree heat is too much! The choices we made kept us healthy, except for a couple rounds of illness I had in the middle of the summer so it was not a bad choice either.
I regret not getting back to Michigan to see my kids and grandchildren. Michigan was a roller coaster ride of what the Governor was going to keep open or shut down from week to week, so we decided not to risk it. We are looking forward to our upcoming travel plans.
While death, disruption, loss of income, and depression are what many will likely recall when they think back on the past year, there are also some positives that should come to the forefront:
More time together with your spouse/partner/significant-other or any other name you call the person you reside with
More time to do gardening, crafts, hobbies
Homemade food, especially baked goods became a normal day of life for many
Kids enjoyed being home with their parents and having more family time
Truly learning what your kids are studying in school if they were doing remote learning
Less air pollution from traffic meant cleaner air to breathe
Many people learned how easy and convenient it is to work from home
Companies may now decide to lower their overhead by having more people work from home on a regular basis
Everyone has become more tech savvy thanks to Zoom, Jitsi Meet, and Google Meet
Those who reside too far away to attend club meetings were brought “into the loop” through online meetings
Vacation doesn’t mean you have to travel far
As for me, I’ve spent my time writing, processing photos and videos, and have taken a real liking to adult coloring books.
Whatever the things are that stay-at-home orders and Covid-19 brought to you, remember hindsight is 2020 and you can now envision a bright future in 2021.
It is often said, plan for your future. Everyone is supposed to have a 5-year plan and a 10-year plan. I recently read something that asked where you anticipate your life being in seven years.
Strange number, but what the heck. What will your life be like in 2027? What do I anticipate for mine?
I know things can change on a moment’s notice. The best laid plans change and before you know it you are doing things you did not anticipate, living in a manner you did not anticipate. Where will the next seven years take me?
I started by thinking back seven years, to 2013. At that time, I was married, working full time as a paralegal, and my husband, Ron, and I had applied to adopt our granddaughters that had been taken by CPS.
Between then and now CPS fought the adoption and won, the children were adopted by strangers. My husband developed cancer and lost the battle in December 2015. At that point I thought I would need to remain working full-time until retirement age. My plans included downsizing into a condo or smaller home.
I had begun putting that into motion when in 2019 I had the opportunity to come on board with Paul. I retired out of my full-time job as a paralegal and hit the road.
I now live full-time in a motor home traveling throughout the United States and Canada with Paul. I work part-time ghost-writing blogs and selling my photography online through Fine At America. Paul and I have a YouTube Channel, Rolling Thru North America Travel With US! about our adventures.
So, where will I be seven years from now?
Seven years from now I hope we still be traveling, but it is possible we may decide to settle somewhere. I hope to travel as long as possible. There is a long list of places I have never been and would love to see. By 2027 hopefully most have been crossed off the list.
If we are still rolling on four wheels, great. If the majority of my time is not spent on travel I may be living somewhere in a park model. Why a park model? Because RV parks are active, people come and go, and there are lots of activities. They do not have the seclusion of a house or condo.
I assume I will still be ghost-writing blogs as a part-time income. It is fun, interesting, and a good source of remote income. Seven years from now I will not only be doing that, I will also be doing regular freelance work writing articles for magazines and doing copy-writing for businesses.
I began a book a few years back then stopped working on it when life got chaotic. Seven years from now I will be a published author of that book, and possibly others. I am hoping it brings knowledge to the country about the way CPS destroys families. It is a sad reality of this country.
Seven years from now I will still be shooting photographs and selling them on Fine Art America, just like I do now. I will be processing thousands of photographs taken during my travels that I never found time to work with. My online gallery will have grown from 1,000+ to 7,000+ photos. The YouTube Channel, Rolling Thru North America Travel With US! that Paul and I started in 2020 will have several thousand subscribers and we will still be uploading videos of our travels onto it.
The big clincher, seven years from now I will reach my full retirement age. Will I have already taken my social security, will I apply then, or will I decide to wait and take it at age 70? Time will tell. That is something that will be determined based on my circumstances as time goes by.
So where will I be seven years into the future? Pretty much where I am now. Traveling, writing, and taking photographs. I am enjoying life, why change it?
Have you ever looked back on decisions made in your life and wondered What if I had made a the other choice? What would my life be like now?
Of course, the preponderances about how your life would have been different are all fiction, and they can be good or bad. So have some fun, wonder what if and see what you come up with. Here are a few of mine.
What if I had followed my dream of studying journalism and become a “breaking news” action reporter? I didn’t because I let my mother talk me out of it. Call is sexist, call it the era in which she was raised, or call it a mother being a mother.
But what if I had forged ahead on my dream? Would I have written great articles that resulted in a huge demand for my services? Would I have graduated from newspaper writing to televised reporting? Would I have traveled the world to exotic countries or dangerous war zones?
I will never know the answer, but sometimes the speculation leads to regret. I wish I had followed my dream. Now I write from the comfort of a motorhome while traveling throughout North America. I’m not a high-demand reporter, but I am having fun.
What if I had married my boyfriend from high school? We had been together off and on from the time I was in 7th grade until two years after I graduated high school. My parents didn’t like him. Friends assumed we would end up married. Heck, we assumed we would end up married.
Then I met the man that would become my husband. Ron and I were married 34 years when he died. If I hadn’t met Ron, would I have eventually married Brad?
Speculation is yes, but it wouldn’t have lasted. It was too volatile of a relationship. Good for a few months, then separate for a few months. He wanted commitment, but he didn’t want commitment.
Brad wasn’t ready for anything that required him to settle down and not play the field. Sixteen months after I met Ron, we married. I think on this one the What if would not have ended well. I think we are better as friends.
What if I had applied to Ford Motor Company when I had the opportunity? Ron was a Ford employee, and somewhere around 10 years into our marriage each employee was allowed to sponsor one application. He asked me if I wanted it and I turned it down.
I had always worked for small, family businesses. I was happy in that small, close-knit setting. He had complained about the red tape it always took to get anything accomplished in a big corporation.
Looking back, I may have made a huge financial mistake. What if I had applied and gotten hired? I would have worked at a higher pay scale, had my own benefits, and had my own pension upon retirement.
At the same time, maybe I didn’t make a mistake. From an emotional standpoint, I have never regretted working for small family-run businesses throughout my career. If I had taken that job, I might still be working but close to retirement.
If I had been hired into Ford I would never have had the opportunity to go to college and become a paralegal, another job I loved doing. I am now living and traveling in a motor-home full time throughout Canada and the United States. I work remotely during the hours I want.
I don’t have the benefits and financial security that job would have brought me, but I don’t think the What if would have led to as much personal happiness as I have enjoyed. That leads to my final scenario.
What if I had downsized into a Condo? After my husband passed away, I spent 2-3 years in a bit of a muddle both emotionally and financially. When I began to look at things closer I realized I was living beyond my means and needed to downsize.
While I pondered between moving to a smaller house or a condo I started separating my belongings into what I would keep and what I would put in a moving sale. Then the offer came.
Paul asked me to come on board with him and travel full-time in a motor-home. After analyzing my finances I realized it was feasible and changed my plans. I notified my boss I was leaving and started planning for the biggest downsize of my life.
Was it good decision? Yes. Travel between August 2019 and April 2020 went as planned, and we saw a lot of area. Covid-19 led us to the decision to stay put in Yuma, Arizona during the stay-home orders. We will remain here until August, when we finally hit the road again with stops planned in Port Huron, Michigan; Knoxville, Tennessee; and South Padre Island, Texas before we head back here to Yuma, Arizona for the winter.
So What if I had downsized into a condo or small house? I would still be doing cold Michigan winters and working full-time in an office. I would have spent the stay-at-home period isolated in my home by myself.
Instead I have traveled to many of the spots I may never have ventured to on my own, and there are many more to come. Some think I made a huge mistake to pack up and go before I reached retirement age. You know what I think – Better an Oops than a What if.
What are your What ifs in life? Do you regret the choices you made? Do you think your life is better because of them? Comment below on your what ifs in life.
I look around, the place has more people than normal for this time of year, but it is still pretty well emptied out. Why wouldn’t it be? Who wants to stay where the summer temperatures go as high as 120° Fahrenheit?
Yet, here I am. Our original plan was to leave here at the beginning of April and visit several national parks and scenic areas through several states before heading to Michigan to visit family. Then head south and west again, hitting Sault Lake City and Colorado Springs for photography and RV conferences before going for a three-month stay on South Padre Island, Texas, followed by winter back here in Yuma, Arizona.
Those plans have been crushed by the Coronavirus shutdowns. We have extended our stay here in Yuma until at least August 3rd. We are trying to secure reservations in Michigan for somewhere between mid-August to early October, but so far have not had any luck. The state is still locked down and the few campgrounds that are open do not have long-term spots available.
Time will tell if we travel, where we will be, and when we will get there. When you live full-time in an RV, campgrounds are an essential part of life.
We are living through an event that will be written about in history books. Have you recorded your stay-at-home location and changes in lifestyle? Have you noted the schools closing, people doing work-at-home because businesses closed, hospitals overrun with patients, people wearing face masks and gloves to protect those around them?
If you have young children, have you recorded their thoughts on what is going on around them? These are memories that may be forgotten over time but will be important to future generations.
Paul and I are hanging tight in Yuma, Arizona. I walked around the park and took snapshots of the camp, documenting the place that was full when we arrived in February and is now almost empty. A lot of the people here in the winter are Canadian snowbirds who were ordered to return to Canada in March or lose medical insurance due to the pandemic.
So where are you? Have you documented the event? Leave me your comments below.
While in Virginia I was able to ride across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel twice – once going over, once coming back. This is an experience worth a special trip.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opened on April 15, 1964 and was selected as “One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World” in a worldwide competition. In 1965 it was described as an “Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement” by the American Society of Civil Engineers. From shore-to-shore the bridge-tunnel measures 17.6 miles and is the world’s larges bridge-tunnel complex. It consists of 12 miles of low-level trestle, two 1-mile tunnels, 2 bridges, almost 2 miles of causeway, 4 man-made islands and 5-1/2 miles of approach roads for a total of 23 miles. The clearance below the bridges varies from 40 feet at the Fisherman’s Inlet to 75 feet over the north channel.
I took the drive, which crosses over the Chesapeake Bay, from the City of Virginia Beach north to Cape Charles, Virginia on the Delmarva Peninsula, then a few hours later made the return trip. I shot photographs from a moving vehicle, which show driving across the bridges, going through the two tunnels, and on the way back I was able to capture a ship passing over the tunnel and between the bridges ahead of me.
Please Note: It may take a few minutes for the slide show to load completely due the number of photos it contains. It will load and show complete photos.
Once you cross over onto the Delmarva Peninsula be sure to stop at the Visitors Center for information and directions to the 1942 Bunker of the Winslow Battery from WWII. It is within walking distance from the visitor center, or if you prefer you can drive to the location where handicap parking is available. It is a unique treasure hidden from view and well worth the side trip.
Bunker from WWII
Despite the official name change to Lucius J. Kellam, Jr. Bridge Tunnel in 1987, honoring the man who spearheaded the building of the project, to preserve the bridge-tunnel’s identity and name recognition it continues to be known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The bridge-tunnel is one of only ten bridge-tunnel systems in the world, three of them are located in the water in the Hampton Roads area of Tidewater Virginia. I went through the Hampton Bay-Bridge Tunnel on my way to the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel. While it gives you a small taste of what is to come, the overall experience is small in comparison. If you get the opportunity to experience the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, do not pass up the opportunity.
My first six days as a Nomad were interesting, fun, and sometimes frustrating. In many ways it feels more like a vacation rather than a lifestyle change. It is relaxing and interesting, and sometimes not at all what is planned. If I can experience all this in six days, I can’t imagine what the future will bring.
On Monday we left Port Huron, Michigan and traveled to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Our original plan was to stay only two nights, but after reviewing travel information about the surrounding area decided to extend our stay to a total of four days.
On Tuesday we visited the Bush Pilot Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie. Paul was a bush pilot when he lived in Owen Sound, Ontario as a teen so this was on his “hit list.” The museum was interesting, with several planes on display inside the hanger where the museum is located. We viewed two movies, the first was an “on board” experience with a bush pilot, and of course took the rider through a series of mistakes and mishaps that can happen on a plane, including an unexpected storm, dozing off with the plan on autopilot, and more. The second movie was in 3D and took you into the heart of fighting forest fires. You experienced time in flight with the commander of the entire firefighting operation, in flight with a pilot doing water drops, and on land with a ground firefighting crew. Both movies are well worth the time it takes to view them.
A small town about four hours northwest of Sault Ste. Marie is the home of Winnie-the-Pooh, and houses a statue of Winnie, as well as a Winnie-the-Pooh and Railroad Museum. I wanted to go there so a day trip was planned. Part of the trip goes along the shore of Lake Superior, and we figured we would find photo ops along the way. A visitor guide worker had told us about an off-road trail on that stretch which Paul wanted to check out. We didn’t locate the trail she used, but did access a logging trail, which about 20 minutes in we decided was not offering any photo ops so turned around and continued on our journey.
We did find a couple spots to stop and take photographs of Lake Superior, and a small rapids and river we walked in and photographed. It was interesting that this entire route had very few towns, gas stations, or any other type of business or rest area to stop at. So scarce they were practically non-existent. We saw a rest area/visitor center which made a good stop for a few minutes. They had a small gift shop where Paul decided to pick up a couple energy bars to tie us over until lunch, which we planned to eat in White River. That purchase turned out to be a very good decision.
We munched on our energy bars, and decided to stop for gas as we rolled into White River, because we would need it to make the full journey back to Sault Ste. Marie. There were barriers up across the gas pumps and an attendant walked over and informed us that the pumps were not working because the entire town of White River had lost power and nothing was open. We drove through town and took pictures of the Winnie-the-Pooh statue. The attendant was correct, absolutely everything, including the museum we had just driven four hours to visit, was closed so we started our journey back.
Not too far south of White River was a small gas station with full-service pumps. The attendant there shared that the last time White River lost power they were out for a week. He also let us know that there was a restaurant on Hwy 17 just south of Wasmus where we could get lunch/dinner. By now it was after 2:00 pm and we were definitely getting hungry.
We drove the two hours south and located the restaurant. Our luck had not yet changed; on the front door hung a sign that they were closed until 5:00 pm. It was only 4:30 so we decided to drive on. We were not far from our campground when we found The Voyageur Lodge, which included a small restaurant. The menu was limited, but the food very good. Paul had an open face hamburger, which had gravy to which he added mushrooms and onions. It normally included fries and coleslaw, but he switched the fries for onion rings, which he said were very good. I opted for a fish sandwich which also came with fries. The sandwich was made with whitefish which was lightly breaded and very nicely done. We shared a butter tart for dessert, also very tasty.
Our final day in Sault Ste. Marie we drove into town and visited the historical canal sight. At the end of the island was a swing damn, one of only nine built and the last in existence. It is used in emergency situations if there is a problem with the lock. This is also where the lock is located for small boats, and we were lucky enough to see two of the Soo Locks Tour boats use the lock at the same time. The difference in elevation between Lake Superior and Lake Huron is 21 feet, so quite interesting to observe the lock in operation. A nice way to finish out our stay.
Friday morning we said goodbye to Sault Ste. Marie and drove east through Ontario, stopping at a small campground in Lavigne, Ontario. We are here only for two nights. One day of rest and computer work before continuing our journey to Ottawa, the capitol of Canada, where we plan to spend four days.
We did take some time from our paperwork to photograph some very decorative scarecrow displays around town. These have been prepared as part of a plowing competition in September. I finished out our last night in Lavigne with a walk around the park, taking a few photographs of Lake Nippising, which the campground is located on.
So far my life as a nomad has been interesting and relaxing, even if Winnie-the-Pooh’s hometown did leave me a bit frustrated. I guess in this lifestyle you simply have to go-with-the-flow when rocks appear in the river.
I have reached the point of excitement. My new lifestyle will soon be moving from life in an RV in my local area to actual life on the road. I am now on my last two weeks of work, with the 16th of August being my final day. I am training someone to take my place at work, will soon have the closing date on my house, and once that is completed we will set off on our new lifestyle.
This past weekend Paul and I opened up the “basement” storage in the motor home and got the last boxes out of my car and into the RV. Not everything is sorted and organized the way we want, but I am at least officially in the motor home totally and completely. The next two weeks will be a whirlwind of finishing up things at work and training my replacement, a doctor’s appointment, turning in my lease vehicle, finishing up paperwork, listing the second home I own for sale, and closing on the home I was residing in. In someways the day when I can “hit the road” seems so far away, and yet so close. Time passes quickly when trying to get everything finished in the final moments.
We are now starting to plan the first leg of our travels, and it is exciting and a bit nerve wracking at the same time. I am semi-retiring prior to retirement age, so will need to do remote or seasonal work while on the road to supplement the spousal pension I receive. Until I have a steady income from remote or seasonal work I will be concerned about finances. That is just me.
At the same time, if I didn’t jump at this opportunity now to travel full-time I know I would regret it for years to come. You only live once, so might as well make the most of it. What are that chances that I will ever again run across the opportunity to live full time in a motor home traveling Canada and the United States with a person with whom I am compatible who is also a fellow photographer?
I hope this is a life style we can enjoy for several years. The opportunity to experience a variety of cultures and the diversity of nature as we travel cross country is something I am looking forward to. As I travel I plan to keep a journal about my travels. I enjoy freelance writing and hopefully you will see my writing and/or photographs not only in this blog, but also in published magazines and journals.
If you have any “must see” locations in Canada or the United States, please share.
While I have only been living in an RV for a little over a month, Paul has been enjoying this life for a year now and has shared some wildlife dilemmas he has encountered. Depending on where in the story you are, the experiences can be perceived as frustrating or funny, possible even fearful and confusing for the creatures involved.
The first incident was when Paul was staying in a campsite and continuously heard something running back and forth on the top of his motor home. He could not figure out what any creature would find so entertaining as to scamper back and forth, but didn’t really give it much thought.
Then one day a fellow campground tenant asked Paul if he realized that a squirrel had built a nest on the top of his slide. Now this is a sheltered location, as the slide has a built in canopy over it. Paul got up on a ladder and looked at the top of the slide. The nest was positioned in the middle of the slide, and he could tell it was about two feet wide and no idea how deep. Now how to reach it?
Paul had a long-handled squeegee and decided that would do the trick. Standing on the top of the ladder he reached the squeegee in as far as possible and pulled the nest toward him, letting it fall to the ground. He repeated this process several times until as much of the nest as he could reach fell to the ground. He then moved the latter to the other end of the slide and repeated the process.
After he had removed the nest one of the observers mentioned that when it fell to the ground baby squirrels had run away from it. One of the campground workers when and got a shovel and scooped up all the nest debris and disposed of it elsewhere. Now the question was, how had the squirrel gotten up onto the roof of the motor home, as there were no trees nearby. Paul heard the sound on his roof again and went out to observe.
The squirrel was climbing up and down the ladder on the back of his RV. He said the mother squirrel looked to be in a big of a panic, running back and forth, looking all over as if to say “where is my home?” and “where are my babies?” Despite the fact that the nest had to be removed for him to bring the slide in and move to the next location, I had to feel sorry for the poor mother squirrel who thought she had built a safe haven for her little family and it was now missing.
Now we move to fluttered friends. A nest with eggs was found on one of the support arms for one of the slides and was removed, then on at least two other occasions birds built nests on the lower portion of the slides. One bird was unintentionally suicidal. As we were getting ready to leave after the jeep was parked less than 48 hours a bird had built a nest on the top of his front passenger side tire — and it was tightly muddied to the tire! It was removed before we drove off. Can you imagine the shock of all those birds who had found what they considered an ideal place to construct their homes, only to return and have them totally gone.
This makes me wonder, why is this RV and Jeep so loved by wildlife? With trees nearby why select a man-made object over nature? It will be interesting to see what other creatures may be attracted to our motor home as we traverse the U.S. and Canada.
I have been, and continue to be, in the whirl-wind of trying to sort through 36+ years of belongings accumulated in my house and reduce the “keep” items down to what I can take with me in a 35-foot motor home, in which I will live and travel the United States and Canada. Needless to say, this is a monumental task. I am on the downside now, with only a few things left to complete, and the estate sale is scheduled May 2-6, 2019.
I have been sorting through old items, boxes never unpacked from when we moved here in February 2004, and family heirlooms, mementos and photographs. Those special items I have painstakingly gone through and divided between my two adult children. In the midst of all this my son has been moving out. Between working long hours and moving about 45 minutes away, he has taken a long time in the process with a couple trailer loads of items still left to move. This has made for a very stressful situation. We are now down to “crunch time” as the estate seller will need to come into the home and get things priced. My son made a comment about me pushing my sale back, but I refuse to do that. I need to get my house emptied, ready for sale, and sold quickly.
I have spent weekend after weekend at home, sorting through all my current items and those in boxes, preparing for my estate sale. Today I took some “me” time and attended the #RochesterWriters Spring Conference. I enjoyed a day of informative keynote speakers and instructors, plus socializing with other writers. It was time well spent, combining instruction in self-publishing with networking. There is something about spending a day with other writers that inspires one to write. Even though you haven’t seen me here in quite a while due to everything going on in my personal life, I find myself here tonight writing a quick blog, just to say hi and let you know I am still alive and kicking.
Once the sorting and packing is complete and I have moved into the RV, which will happen on or about April 23, 2019, you will begin to hear from me more often. As I move into fall and begin to travel the country I plan to post travel blogs of my adventures, and hopefully expand into writing some travel articles for magazines as well. What the future holds for me one can not be certain, but it will definitely be an adventure and a change in lifestyle.
Looking off into the distance, the peaks of the Canadian Rockies can be seen, drive a couple hours north east and visit Drumheller, a town sunken down into the earth that just happens to have the world’s largest finding of dinosaur skeletons and a huge museum displaying them, but the main purpose of this destination was to attend the Calgary Stampede, the largest outdoor event on earth.
It is exhilarating to travel somewhere you have never been before. To experience the beauty of nature and the excitement of a world-renown event. To visit areas famous for their natural beauty. That is what I did this past July when I flew from Detroit, Michigan to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for a 10-day vacation. To me travel and vacations are an opportunity to partake in the areas surroundings, take photographs, and experience the culture of the area.
Calgary is surrounded by a vast array of attractions, and I was only able to experience a small amount. I arrived at night and did not have the opportunity to view the Canadian Rockies from my plane, but when I awoke the next morning they could be seen in the distance from where I was staying. About 1-1/2 hours drive west from Calgary is Banff National Park. Canada’s First National Park comprises 2,564 square miles and is located in the Canadian Rockies. Banff is the home of Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, glacier lakes with a beautiful, distinctive emerald/turquoise color water. The breathtaking scenery makes this park makes it well worth the time to visit.
A day trip to Drumheller, northeast of Calgary, is a “must see”. Located in the Canadian Badlands, this unique town is built in an area of land that at some point in time sunk down into the earth that now houses the badlands and an entire town. This is where you will find the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur skeletons and fossils. I spent several hours inside the museum, taking a break to lunch at the on-sight cafeteria.
The plan was to visit the Royal Tyyrell Museum in the morning and spend the afternoon driving the Canadian Badlands taking photos. The Canadian Badlands covers a 35,000 square mile region where dinosaur bones were discovered in the late 1800s. Nowhere on Earth has there ever been found the quantity and quality of dinosaur remains as have been discovered in the Canadian Badlands. It is speculated that for some reason this area of land sank down into the earth, creating a drastic drop in elevation and that stampeding dinosaurs fell over the age and died. The result is one of the world’s largest dinosaur fossil regions. Since the late 1800’s more than 1,000 complete skeletons of dinosaurs have been found and digs continue to this day. The Royal Tyrrell Museum contains over 130,000 skeletons and/or fossils from this area.
In addition to dinosaur finds, the Badlands is also where gangsters would run and hideout in the “wild west” era. The terrain of the area was dangerous due to its sunken area, allowing for an easy ambush and law enforcement would not pursue gangsters once they entered the area. The history of the badlands combined with the gorgeous rock formations makes the area a “must see” on a trip to the region. Unfortunately a rainstorm prevented the planned exploration of the badlands from taking place.
The main purpose of my trip to Calgary was the Fantasy RV Tours 7-Day Calgary Stampede event. The tour group arranged RV parking in a stadium parking lot and participants took a short walk to the train stop for a ride into the town of Calgary and/or to the Calgary Stampede Grounds. In addition to the stampede, the tour included a visit to Heritage Park and Gasoline Alley, attending the Calgary Stampede Parade, breakfast in the rotating restaurant at Calgary Tower, and a visit to the Glenbow Museum in downtown Calgary.
Heritage Park Historical Village includes Gasoline Alley, a “must see” car museum. I spent so much time in Gasoline Alley that my time was very limited on viewing the rest of this living history museum. A train ride around the park gave me a nice overview, and because of the way stops are scheduled you circle the park twice before you can disembark at the location you boarded. The majority of visitors get off and on to visit various attractions.
Our tour included breakfast at the revolving restaurant in the Calgary Tower. The observation deck of the tower provides a 360° view of the city and surrounding area. One area has a glass floor you can walk out on for a true view down. I found the glass bottom very disconcerting, and had to use the rail to walk out onto it. Across from the tower is the Glenbow Museum, which is a combination art and history museum. I spent quite a bit of time viewing the historical exhibits and taking photographs.
The Calgary Parade is a kick-off to the Calgary Stampede. This parade displays the heart and sole of Calgary and the Stampede, with horses, carriages, bands, and more. Many follow the parade down to the stampede grounds for the opening of the event. The Calgary Stampede grounds is a huge venue, including barns, a midway, an Indian Village, and the main highlight, the stampede grandstand. You definitely want to take in both an afternoon rodeo show and an evening grandstand show, which features chuck wagon races, performances, and fireworks. You will not be disappointed!
My trip to Calgary went way too fast and before I knew it my ten days had ended and I was at the airport and on my way home. I hope that someday I will get back to the area and have a chance to visit more thoroughly some of the areas I only touched on lightly.
Am I the only one who feels like they have to go into overdrive in order to prepare for a vacation? I recently planned for a 10-day trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In order to prepare I had to complete several things.
Book Airline Flight
Reserve parking for my vehicle near airport
Passport due to expire five months before my flight, six months is the minimum, passport renewed
Go to bank to get US money exchanged for Canadian funds to take on trip — but my bank doesn’t have them plus charges a $12 fee; go to second bank that does not charge a fee and lets me obtain funds, which they have on hand, because I have a credit card issued by their bank.
Go back to bank closer to trip to withdraw US funds to travel with.
Check for good photo ops where I will be traveling to
Order meals for the two flights (coming and going) that are in excess of four hours.
Check the airline baggage requirements for international travel; order a suitcase that meets airline specifications for checked luggage
Measure my carry-on bag to make sure it meets airline requirements.
Check the list of airline regulations to make sure I am not doing anything to raise the hackles of TSA.
Make last-minute checklist so I don’t forget anything
Make sure all camera batteries are charged, SD cards clear, all camera gear needed is ready to go.
Continuously analyze whether I want to pack my laptop, just an external drive to download photos onto using my friend’s computer, or if just the SD cards will be enough and I can download after returning home.
Work extra hours to get everything organized for when I am away.
Wash clothes on an “off day” so they are clean to pack and/or ready for return to work after vacation.
Pack suitcase and carry-on bags
Print boarding passes
Leave for trip — See ya when I return!
How many of you go through similar rituals when preparing for a trip? Do you have any tips to make travel prep easier?
How often we have a dream of something…a place to travel, an advancement in career, weight loss, or a lifestyle change. Often whatever that dream may be seems so far off in the distance that we feel it is unachievable. The problem is that we fail to create a plan of action. Without a plan the dream is impossible, because without action the reality of the dream will never be achieved.
Some people formulate plans in their head. Other people, like me, make lists and cross things off as accomplished. Some are able to just dive in and start working without a plan of action. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as it works. Too often when a task seems overwhelming it is easy to let it slide; even if you have the list you never act on it. Other times set-backs can throw us off balance or cause a backwards slide. When that happens get your footing and push forward.
I am dealing with dreams in various aspects of my life, and the reality is I have been slow in taking action, but every small step I make gives me a feeling of accomplishment and the desire to push forward….I just need to start doing it at a faster pace!
Each of my dreams deals with a different part of my life. Each has a different game plan. Each will be worked on and accomplished at different speeds, and some may need to be put on hold while I push to accomplish others. That is okay. Even putting some on hold can be part of the overall plan of action. The important part is to act on the plan.
So, what are my Dreams + Action = Reality goals?
Asset Control: This sounds strange, but I have inheritance money and/or assets that have not yet been distributed to me and I need to take whatever steps necessary so that all items are under my control. I also have property and a motor home that I want to sell and need to push stronger to get those sales accomplished. Once I have achieved those things, my asset control goal will be accomplished and I will be able to better fund my investments for a higher yield, which has a direct effect on my retirement funds.
Downsizing: I decided some time ago that I need to downsize, and I have talked about it quite a bit, but the “action” part has been slow in coming. This is most likely because it will be a tremendous change. I will have to get rid of an overwhelming amount of items accumulated over a 34 year marriage, sell move from my 4-bedroom colonial with the plan to purchase a 2-3 bedroom ranch-style condominium. I am finding the action part is both time consuming and somewhat emotional as I will need to part with numerous possessions. However, after cleaning out my parent’s home following their demise and having listened to several friends also go through the same thing, I realize that the majority of this stuff is not anything my kids are going to want and is just taking up space. This is my number one priority and the first “dream” I have to make a “reality”.
Retirement: Being a widow retirement can be very close, within the next three years, or in the distant future. My full-retirement age of 67 is still ten years away. My goal is to land somewhere in the middle, around age 62-63. I know I cannot afford to stay in this house once I retire, and so the push to downsize is a necessity as much as a desire. The sooner I downsize the faster I can save more money toward my retirement dreams and/or another dream.
Travel: There are a lot of places I have not been to but want to see, both in this country and others. While working I want to start taking short trips and seeing a bit of the country. Once I retire I want to be able to travel much more extensively. I am even debating whether I want to go ahead and fulfill a prior dream my deceased husband and I had…full time RV. A friend of mine just started on his adventure, and in helping him get ready to head out I felt the desire come back to hit the road myself. I have learned that there are a lot of women driving Class A motor homes and towing vehicles, living the full-time life all by themselves If they can do it, why can’t I. Time will tell.
Writing and Photography: These are both things I do now, but my life has been rather hectic the past few years and I do not have as much time for either of these areas as I would like. I hope that once I have downsized, and most definitely once retired, that I can devote a considerable amount of time to both of these areas. I have a book started that I plan to finish and other ideas bouncing around in my head for additional books.
As you read this you may have realized that my dreams are related to each other. I need financial control of all my assets to achieve my other goals financially. I need to complete the downsizing prior to retirement. I need to retire to obtain more time for writing, photography, and travel. Dreams + Action = Reality. I better get busy!
I hope that while reading this you have started to formulate dreams and plans for action in your head. What are your dreams? I would love to hear about them in the comment section below.
I saw the thought proving statement, “If I Received $10,000 that I HAD to spend on myself I would…” That got me thinking, what would I do with that kind of money if I absolutely had to spend it on myself, not save it, not pay bills, but spend it on just me, what would I do?
As my mind started tossing around the possibilities I realized that $10,000 is both a lot of money and only a small amount of money. It would not purchase a house, a motor home, a boat, or a new vehicle. On the other hand, if used with a bit of frugality, there is a lot that could be done with that type of “free” money.
I think I would take a few hundred dollars and re-work my wardrobe. A larger selection and more splashy, bright colored, fun things to wear. I might even splurge on some new shoes and a purse or two, as I tend to use mine until they are on their death bed, which I have a habit of doing with most of my clothes and accessories.
I might add a few pieces of quality jewelry. I have some good jewelry, but I have a lot of costume jewelry and I would likely replace some of those pieces.
The majority of the money I would spend on travel. I don’t know how far that money would take me, but I would think if I watched for bargains I could hit a few places I have never been or adventures I have never taken. For years I have wanted to take an Alaskan cruise on the inside passage. I have never been to the Grand Canyon, Yellow Stone, or Mt. Rushmore. Scenic photos of Wyoming and the Dakotas capture my eye, as do many other places in both the U.S. and Canada. I love places that are photogenic, so who knows what might grab my attention.
I have never been on a week-long cruise and that might be a wonderful way to kick-back and relax while seeing exotic places. I would like to get back to Hawaii someday, and I’ve heard the Caribbean and/or other tropical islands are wonderful places to vacation. I think it would be neat to travel in Europe, possibly visiting some or all of the countries of my heritage, those being Belgium, Germany, Poland, and Netherlands. Others of interest are Ireland, Italy, Iceland, Greece, and Switzerland…and I’m sure there are more. Of course there is always the possibility of a photo trip to Africa, or maybe Galapagos Islands. The possibilities are endless.
Have I spent my $10,000 yet? I’m sure I have. I guess $10,000 may seem like a lot, but I’m sure I could handle spending it all on me if I had to. Now if only that were reality. Dreaming…..I’m only dreaming…..
Imagine six years of life where your movements are controlled, where you have no privacy, where you can make phone calls out but no one can call you, your mail is read prior to you receiving it, where you can never go visit, but must wait for people to visit you. That is the life my son led from the time he was 24 years old until he was 30.
When he received notice in December that he had received parole he began counting down the days. March 20th seemed like it was in the distant future for him. For me it went fast. I was trying to get things done prior to his release, and of course I made the six hour drive to pick him up.
Patrick was released from Newberry Correctional Facility in Michigan’s upper peninsula at 8:00 am March 20, 2018. Although he is on a tether for the first six months of his two year parole, and he must abide by curfews that in the beginning are tight, it is considerably better than the spot he was at. So how did Patrick spend his first day of freedom?
Patrick — this single photo is on the OUTSIDE of the prison.
Our last prison photo
I picked him up at the correctional facility, we loaded his belongings into the car and than took our last two prison photos, a “selfie” of the two of us, and then one of him in front of the facility. Every time I (and my now deceased husband) visited we paid to have photos taken of us together and one of Patrick alone, so this was our last prison photo shoot.
Our first stop was a gas station/McDonald’s combination where he got a McGriddle sandwich — also one of my favorites. When he asked if he could have bacon added to the sandwich the girl responded “you can have whatever you want” and Patrick responded “those are words I’m not used to hearing.”
I had purchased him a cell phone, but phones have advanced considerably in the past six years. He was on the phone talking as we were crossing the Mackinac Bridge and I heard him say that the water looked really cool with the ice on it and “if I wasn’t on the phone talking to you I could take a picture.” He got instructions on how to stay on the phone and take a photo at the same time.
Two years ago my husband/Patrick’s father passed away, and I had obtained permission from the parole agent to make a few stops, Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly being one, where Patrick saw his father’s grave-site for the first time.
Reading the tile on his father’s grave
We then headed to Fort Gratiot, he did not have to check in with the parole agent until the next morning, and we had permission to go shopping at Kohls to get him some clothes and then out to dinner. We ended up spending about three hours in Kohls.
Patrick tries on a hat at Kohs
Patrick helped me pick out short outfits for my grandchildren’s Easter baskets, then we shopped for clothing for him. He had changed sizes while incarcerated and had to try on a few things. A pair of tennis shoes, four pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, one shirt (couldn’t find many he liked), some boxers, and socks and we felt he had a nice start. I had already purchased him a nice pair of fleece pants, hoodie, polo, and a v-neck t-shirt prior to picking him up. During our shopping Patrick had to exit the building and stand in an open area of the parking lot so the satellite could take a picture of him/his location. He was told that happens frequently in large department stores or malls if in for a while.
Next stop was Red Lobster. Lobster Fest is going on, and we had the same meal — two different kinds of lobster and green beans with mushrooms, and of course salad and biscuits. The place was quiet, the service was good, the food was fantastic.
Dinner at Red Lobster
We were on our way home when my daughter called and said her boyfriend had the truck torn apart and needed to pick up a hose to complete it, could I swing by, pick him up and take him around the corner to the auto store. I went by her house, dropped off Patrick, picked up Rob and took him to the auto shop, then went back around and dropped off Rob and picked up Patrick and we came home and unloaded the car.
The evening was finished off with Caroline (my daughter) and her three kids coming over for a while, and then Patrick and I watched a bit of TV. It was a wonderful day for me, and I’m sure a great first day of freedom for him as well.
The other day I had an encounter with a squirrel, well not actually an encounter, more somewhat of an invasion. I happened to look out the window onto my front porch and spotted a squirrel up on the porch with a huge nut in its mouth. It seemed to be confused on where it wanted to go. It came across the porch, then walked toward the steps leading off the porch, then turned around so it was facing the door into the house, then sideways again and disappeared off the side of the porch.
What was the squirrel thinking as he ran back and forth? Why did he choose to get up onto my porch? Was he trying to escape the rain? Where did the nut come from? This last question is relevant because I don’t have any nut trees on or by my house that I am aware of. How far did he carry that nut?
Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2014.
One question was answered by this, as I assume that this could be the same squirrel who left the shell from a nut on my sidewalk about a week ago. I saw the pieces and wondered where they had come from. Still I wonder where the squirrel was coming from, how far he is traveling to accumulate his nuts, and why he chose to walk up and across my porch rather than through the front lawn.
This is not the first animal encounter I have had. Past encounters include bunny rabbits, deer on the front lawn, skunks strolling on my driveway and sidewalk, a rooster walking across the front lawn, birds on my porch eating insects out of spider webs, and a woodpecker pecking at my house.
Whatever possesses these animals to pass my way I will never know. What is going through their minds as they travel across my yard I sometimes wonder. Why that woodpecker feels the need to peck away at my house rather than one of the trees I cannot explain. Wildlife in action. I’m still pondering over the thought process of that squirrel on my front porch.
If you have been a reader for a while you know that I like quotes and sometimes use them as inspiration for my writing. I stumbled upon the quote Self-help and in reading realized how well it fits me.
How to stop time: kiss. This one shouldn’t need an explanation. Lets just put it bluntly, kissing is a huge turn-on. It can make time stand still or make it spin. It is relaxing, comforting, exhilarating, exciting, enticing, enjoyable. One of the best feel-good things there is. Enjoy!
How to travel in time: read. Reading is a wonderful way to escape from the world. Pick a subject, dive into a book and loose yourself as you travel to another world. By selection of topic you can go anywhere, into the past, into the future, travel in outer space, get lost solving a crime or be entranced by romance. The world is yours and the choice is yours on where in time you travel. Pick a destination and explore.
How to escape time: music. Music has the ability to make you feel good and get the body moving. It is energizing and relaxing, happy, and sad. It can wake you up; it can put you to sleep. It can create elicit memories of the past or help you dream of possibilities for the future. There are no rules. All you have to do is feel…enjoy the beat, sway to the rhythm, let the mind wander, escape reality, let the music flow as you escape in time.
How to feel time: write. I think this one is mis-labeled. I don’t feel time when I write so much as I lose time, or rather loose track of time. Anyone who is a writer, who truly enjoys writing, knows the feeling of becoming absorbed in their writing and not wanting to stop until all those thoughts that are in their brain course down through their arms, into their fingertips and onto paper. Those thoughts must be put down and preserved. If you want to lose time, write.
How to release time: breathe. How true this is, and how very important it is to understand. You release time when you breathe. When you breathe you release stress, refocus, re-energize, maintain balance. You let time fade away and you regain your life. To have a balanced, enjoyable life you have to allow yourself to breath and release time.
The answer to self-help is time. Time to enjoy all the aspects of life. Time to escape all the stress of life. Time to be whatever you want to be. Read something that exhilarates the mind. Kiss with tenderness; kiss with passion. Grab someone and sway to the music. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Then put all those memories on paper.
If you have been a reader for a while you know that my husband, Ron, passed away December 7, 2015 and since that time I have been adjusting to living on my own. In reflecting on myself now, plans for the future and introspection of the past I have learned a few things.
I am capable of living alone, and doing it comfortably. When I met Ron I was 19 and living at home with my parents. I got married, moved in with Ron and had never lived alone. I originally found the idea of living solo terrifying but had no choice. What I have learned is that living on my own has its benefits. I can set the thermostat where I want and it stays there. I can blast the radio at 2 am if I chose without having to worry about disturbing anyone else. I can eat what I want when I want and not have to worry about anyone else. I can re-arrange and hang photos and other artwork on the walls, removing things that were never my choice to begin with and adding new items that appeal to me. I can move, add, eliminate or change anything I chose without wondering if another person is going to like the change.
Although I never paid attention to our finances and had no interest in knowing about them, I am perfectly capable of paying bills, applying for mortgage modifications, listing property for sale, and making decisions on financial assets. I’m not blindly doing what Ron told me to do as he was dying. I’m evaluating my own circumstances and making a decision that I feel comfortable with. My goal for the future is to learn how the stock market and investments work, to understand how to diversify and what everything means so I can make informed choices. Hopefully I will get a grasp on this within the next decade. I’m really walking in uncharted territory here.
I can now run a riding lawn mower, a weed wacker, call a plumber, take vehicles in for routine maintenance, find and hire repair persons for things such as air conditioning. However I have no intention of learning to run the snowblower. That thing is just too big. I’ll kill myself shoveling first. I even look at the Harbor Freight and Tractor Repair sales flyers now in case there is something I need. Okay, I’ll admit my big purchase this year was two tarps, but we all have to start somewhere.
One big surprise, I like to cook. I know that sounds funny after 34 years of marriage, but I thought I didn’t like cooking. I have been cooking for myself for a year now and I realize that I like it. For the majority of our marriage Ron did all the cooking. Over the years I told people didn’t like doing day-to-day rush home from work an cook a meal, but I liked doing the larger family meals. I recently said those words to someone but later in the evening it occurred to me that the statement isn’t true. I don’t mind cooking for myself at all. I love grilling entire meals in the summer months. So why the change in my thoughts?
What I have discovered is that it wasn’t the cooking I disliked, it was that Ron always had a criticism of some sort and tended to hover, questioning why I did things the way I did, telling me I should do things differently than I did. Nothing was ever quite good enough, there was always a “why didn’t you…” Basically, he thought I should cook just like him. After a while I tired of the negativity and simply walked away and left it to him. He cooked, I cleaned up, and it worked.
Since Ron’s passing I have discovered that I enjoy cooking. I like throwing foods together to see what I like, mixing different combinations. If they are all watching from above there are three cooks in heaven that are probably surprised at what they see.
I would say Ron is probably shocked at the things I fix; that I enjoy the cooking and especially like grilling. My Mother-in-Law is probably happy to see me not measuring, just dumping in many instances. I learned early in my marriage that if you called her for a recipe she didn’t measure, it was “till it looks right.” My father was a great cook. When he saw me go into the basement and gather an assortment of ingredients, throw them into a pot and end up with a soup he was probably going “hell ya, that’s the way to cook.” One of my greatest memories is when he cleaned out the refrigerator and made “chili” with the leftovers. How many people have eaten chili with spaghettio’s floating in it? I have!
When it comes to traveling alone I have mixed feelings. It is nice because if I want to wander around and/or make frequent stops to take pictures I can do that without any complaints. Ron and I were both photographers and did that all the time, but the average person does not take pleasure in such activities or delays.
On the other hand, traveling alone can be lonely. If taking in a tourist attraction, such as wandering a museum or park, you are always alone. No one to talk with, share discoveries with. You are always eating alone, and so I always dine with a book. There is no one sharing your hotel room, no one to sleep with. Maybe we shouldn’t go there. Let’s just leave it at that.
So learning about me happened by learning to live alone. What a difference a year has made. The good, the bad, the indifferent. What have I learned? I had a fantastic marriage. I will have a fantastic future. Different than I planned, but that’s okay. I have made decisions that a year ago I would not have made. I have made changes in my life that a year ago I would not have made. Life was different then. I was different then. I am happy with my life, and that is all that matters. Whatever happens, whatever life throws in my direction, I am ready. Bring it on!
This past Saturday was emotional, enlightening, fun, and exhausting all rolled into one. A couple weeks ago I wrote about my cousin losing her husband after a lengthy battle with cancer in Feeling Their Pain. The funeral was set and I debated for a week whether or not to go. I wanted to go, but I have a lot going on and I was juggling the loss of an entire Saturday to travel and attend v. being able to get things accomplished around home. I didn’t want to later regret not going so I went.
It was a beautiful fall Saturday in Michigan. The visitation was scheduled for 10:00 am, funeral for 11:00. I set my alarm for 4:00 am and was on the road at 5:15 am for the four hour drive. I watched the sunrise through the passenger side of my vehicle as I traveled north on I-75. A quick fifteen minute stop in West Branch gave me the opportunity to re-fuel the vehicle and myself by way of coffee and pumpkin donuts. I was in Traverse City at 9:30 am.
The funeral was held at the Reynolds Jonkoff Funeral Home in Traverse City, the same place my Grandmother’s funeral was held years ago. A beautiful, historical home that lends itself to comfort for memorial services. Photo boards and memorabilia of Charlie’s life were on display, and a slide show of photos played on the screen. Always smiling, always clowning around and being silly, that was Charlie.
I was greeted by family I rarely see and met some I have never seen. It is hard to maintain contact with extended family when we all live so far apart. Facebook is a blessing in that regard for helping people to stay in touch. Charlie’s widow, Michelle, and I had not seen each other since we were children, but we recognized each other immediately. It had only been six days since Charlie passed and Michelle was struggling emotionally. We held each other and cried together, Michelle because the pain was new, me because I was reliving the pain through the memories this setting brought on. I left her a card in which I enclosed the poem I read at my husband Ron’s burial, If Tomorrow Starts Without Me (see below).
During the ceremony the Obituary of Charlie Jokinen was read. Charlie grew up in grew up in Bobcaygeon, Ontario and the stories shared by his best friend from childhood were filled with humor; good memories of a wonderful person in his youth. Michelle’s daughter, Nicole, talked about what a wonderful, accepting person Charlie was when he came into their lives, and how despite his struggles with cancer always attended her sporting events, concerts, and other activities of youth. I learned that Charlie and my husband, Ron, were very much alike. Both loved photography, being active, loved life and family, and were always smiling. It was a wonderful testimonial to a life well lived and a person well liked and loved by all.
Following the ceremony was the procession to the Memorial Gardens where Charlie was laid to rest beside my Uncle Lee and Aunt Jesse Hilts, who were laid to rest beside my maternal grandparents, Ralph and Grace Hilts. They are all located not far from the graves of my paternal grandparents, uncle and parents. After a short grave side service during which Michelle lowered Charlie’s ashes into the ground, we proceeded to the Grawn Baptist Church for a luncheon and fellowship with family members and friends.
About 2:30 I hugged Michelle goodbye before getting on the road. We promised to stay in touch and get together for a weekend. We now have a common bond not shared by our siblings or other cousins. I did manage to accidentally announce my departure rather loudly. As I was walking across the lot to my car I somehow managed to activate my car alarm. Nothing like a bright red car with the horn blasting and lights flashing to signal the end of a memorial luncheon. I glanced around, thought I was safe from anyone having witnesses my blunder and got into my car. Then a grey pickup pulled in next to me, it was my cousin, Iva, and her husband Milt. I rolled down the window and Milt congratulated me on adding a bit of humor to the end of the day.
I took the more scenic, leisurely route across the state on my way home. This served two purposes. It allowed me to enjoy the beautiful northern fall scenery with an occasional stop to take photographs, and the climbing in and out of the car into the cool air helped to keep me awake as I drove.
It was not until I got on US-10, an expressway, that the length of the day made me drowsy. I know that if I keep busy it helps me to stay awake and the singing and dancing in the car while driving wasn’t doing the trick. I finally made a stop and picked up a highly nutritious snack at Speedway gas station of a spiced pumpkin cappuccino and a small bag of crunchy Cheetos. I know, individually they sound yummy but as a combo it sounds horrid. Remarkably it wasn’t, so go ahead and give it a try sometimes. It did work in keeping me awake as I stretched that bag of Cheetos all the way to I-69, which marked only an hour more to go on my route.
I arrived home around 7:00 pm. A tiring day but I am glad I went. It was good for Michelle to have me there. It was good for me to be there.
I arrived a few minutes past the designated check-in time. Even though I was late and had to ring the bell I was greeted by Frank with a smile and friendly hello. He gave me a set of keys to my room and the front door. There was no pressure to immediately produce a credit card or sign paperwork. I was told that would be handled at check-out.
Frank gave me a tour of the house so I would know where to find amenities such as a refrigerator, microwave, coffee and tea, and a plate of home baked cookies. He pointed out a buzzer on the main floor that could be used to alert he and/or his wife, Cheryl, that assistance was needed. Frank then carried my suitcase up the steps and showed me my room and bathroom. Because my room had a private bathroom down a hall, plush robes were hanging in the closet to use if needed.
MacLeod House features a large front porch with seating and group of apple and pear trees in the side yard. A spacious back yard in this country setting provides a peaceful atmosphere for relaxing or sleeping. Photo copyright 2016 Grace Grogan.
Cheryl came out to meet me before I left for dinner. She provided me with the time range for breakfast, told me what she was planning to serve each of the days, and inquired as to whether I had any dietary restrictions and if the planned menu met with my approval. It was friendly, relaxed, courteous. There are no frazzled workers, elevator waits, loud kids or drunken patrons navigating the halls at 3 am. It was peaceful, quiet, relaxing.
The home is decorated in antiques. Furniture, photos, bedding, lamps, decorations, all reflect a bygone era. It is as if you have stepped back to a time of elegance and beauty. The old-style lamps in the bedroom give it a relaxing ambiance that no modern light will ever provide. I enjoyed relaxing in one of the chairs in my room each night, munching on a cookie and reading for a bit. When I was ready to climb into bed I flipped on the TV for a bit before dozing off. There is no street noise, no traffic. The quiet took me into a deep slumber.
Morning greeted me with a bathroom stocked with home-style towels, washcloths, bath rugs, and shower gel. None of the harsh white, hotel style bath accessories and cosmetics carrying a hotel logo here. On a table on the second floor landing are brochures of local attractions and a basket of toiletries in case a guest is in need of something.
Once I was showered and dressed for my day I headed down to the dining area for breakfast. I found one couple there enjoying their meal. Another couple joined us a few minutes later. Cheryl prepared our breakfasts as we arrived. French toast with creme cheese and peaches, served with sausage links on day one, omelets and thick toast with jams on the second. Coffee, tea, orange juice and water were available, as were breakfast breads. It was pleasant talking with other guests, learning where everyone was from, how long they plan to stay, where they have dined in the area, and sights they have taken in. A nice pleasant way to start the day.
By now you may realize that my stay was at a bed and breakfast, more specifically MacLeod House in Newberry, Michigan. This was my first time staying at a B & B and I loved the experience. I will definitely look into this type of lodging when traveling in the future. Being a solo female traveler, I felt so much more secure in this environment than I do in a hotel or motel. No large parking lots, elevator rides and long hallways to navigate alone. It is a cozy, friendly atmosphere.
When I made my reservations I was told that I would need to change rooms from one night to the next due to a prior reservation. It was handled easily with me packing up my bags before I left in the morning for my day out. When the rooms were cleaned my bags were moved to the new room. This turned out to be a wonderful opportunity because it allowed me to stay in two different rooms, each with their own unique decorating scheme. My first night I was in the Rose Room, which I found cozy and inviting. This room had a private bath down a small hall; room amenities included plush robes to use if needed. My second night was in the Gold Room, which was a bit larger and had a private attached bath with a footed tub shower. They also offer a suite, which I did not personally view. I have no idea which room I will select the next time I visit that area, as each is unique and inviting.
Newberry is near many local attractions such as Taquamenon Falls, Oswald Bear Ranch, Ste. Saint Marie, and Pictured Rocks. I highly recommend checking them out the next time you are traveling in Michigan’s upper peninsula.
Memorial Weekend was not the first time I have ever traveled solo, but it is the first time I have done so since the passing of my husband in December 2015. It was a good trip. It was a fun trip. It was a relaxing trip. It was a lonely trip. Rather than elaborate in paragraph form, I decided to do a list of bullets, highlights various activities, thoughts, and observations.
Destination Sault Ste. Marie via Newberry, Michigan. For those who do not know, these cities are in Michigan’s upper peninsula and are a 5-1/2 to 6 hour drive from my home.
Even though I set the cruise control at 74 instead of my normal 85 I still made the trip in the projected six hour time frame going to Newberry on Saturday morning, and that included two stops along the way. I made it home from Sault Ste. Marie in 5-1/2 hours on Monday with three stops along the way.
For those of you who do not know, I have a son in Newberry Correctional Facility and was going to visit him. I was very surprised to find that it was not busy at all with visitors. I had anticipated a wait due to the holiday weekend, but was pleasantly surprised to find I could get in right away.
Stopping along a two-lane road near a wooded area in the upper peninsula to shoot, from a distance, a large group of trilliums results in an attack of nats, no-seeums, or baby flies (I was told they were all three of those things). The invasion was so intense that just getting in and out of my car resulted in a large quantity inside, which I was then rolling down the window and trying to shoo out as I drove away. Maybe it would have been better had I not been wearing perfumed lotion?
Trilliums along roadway. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.
Drinking a margarita with my meal resulted in me going from being a good tipper to an exceptionally generous tipper, but I’m sure the waiter was happy.
Having a GPS in the car is great, especially when it tells you your hotel is in one spot, which is a hotel under construction. After placing a phone call you find out your hotel is about 1/2 a mile farther down the road and on the opposite side of the road. However it did have a handy landmark – across the street from Walmart, and next to the State Police post. Hmmmm, I never once saw a State Police vehicle the entire time I was there.
No-leak ice pacs will create a puddle in your fabric insulated lunch box if they thaw completely and will leave a stream behind you when you attempt to carry it.
On Sunday morning all the country music stations, actually almost all the radio stations in general, are either talk shows or church sermons/music. I found a rock station out of Traverse City/Kalkaska playing music, so of course I had to crank it up and dance my way from Sault Ste. Marie to Newberry for my second day of visiting with Patrick.
My favorite place for breakfast in Newberry had several new books by local authors, but I only selected and purchased one. That is what I most often buy when I travel, books written about the area in which I am visiting and/or by local authors. I also purchased a book in a gift shop in Sault Ste. Marie by another local author.
It is great to discover that your cousins from the Traverse City area happen to be visiting Newberry as well and you are able to get together for an impromptu dinner and chat for a couple hours.
I am a chicken when it comes to setting up my tripod and taking photos in the dark on an unlit street when by myself in an area with which I am not familiar when by myself. I never gave it a thought when Ron was with me.
The International Bridge looks awesome at night lit up in red, white, and blue, but I have no pictures (please refer to my previous post above).
At America’s Best Value Inn an accessible room is truly accessible. When I am staying at a location where I am unsure on whether or not they have elevators I will book an accessible room to make sure I am not climbing stairs alone with my suitcase, etc. (I have a very bad ankle). Usually “accessible” is a room that is on the main floor or not far from the lobby or elevator, but beyond that nothing unusual. The one in Sault Ste. Marie was wheelchair accessible, had a wooden floor, a fully wheelchair accessible shower, and a raised toilet seat. Of course the best part was a king size bed, which I had all to myself.
I greatly overestimated how much time I would have in the room to read and/or write and packed way more items than needed.
The Tower of History in Sault Ste. Marie provides a nice view of the entire city and locks. There is a small museum on the main level.
Tower of History. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.
There is an island, Sugar Island, that is accessed by ferry that would be interesting to explore on a future trip. It is inhabited by a small amount of people and also houses some businesses, but is also supposed to have nature areas.
It is hard to access and walk the areas near the water and locks when downtown. The park where the locks are located is gated, has a security entrance, and closes at 9:00 pm. The park itself is quite large and features two stories of viewing platforms for watching ships/boats go through the locks. Unfortunately I missed seeing any go through.
Lockview Restaurant has very good fresh whitefish that can be ordered done in five different methods. I chose broiled and it was very good.
Patrick informed me that Street Outlaws is an awesome program. Monday night was a season premier that was two hours long. I did enjoy the parts I saw, but unfortunately fell asleep and missed a good portion of the races. It was rather cool that they were racing Detroit in that episode.
My ankle is impacting my decisions on what I do or do not do, which means it is affecting my day-to-day quality of life. If it does not improve by fall I think I will need to go in for a consultation with my surgeon and likely have an ankle fusion done over the winter. As someone who is terrified of surgery, that statement and acceptance of the likely need is huge.
I am a much more conscientious spender when traveling alone than I was with Ron. This does not mean I was previously a spender by nature, quite the contrary. I was and am more likely to put off doing things, whereas Ron was always more likely and willing to buy or do whatever he or I wanted and figure out how to pay for it later. I guess he was either a good influence or a bad influence, depending on how you look at it.
Sault Ste. Marie and International Bridge. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.
I need to plan a longer stay to do and see some things I want in Sault Ste. Marie.
Buying a bag of fresh on sale at the fudge shop is good. Munching on it to stay awake all the way home and in the process eating the entire bag is not. I had a miserable stomach ache later to remind me not to make that mistake again!
Overall I had a fun time this weekend. I managed to traverse the city at night without getting myself horribly lost. I forgot to take my book with me for the times I was dining, so utilized social media to keep myself entertained instead. My first weekend trip as a widow was fun. It was relaxing. It was lonely. The next one will be better.
When I was starting this blog I struggled with a theme. Most people stick to one particular topic in their blogs, but I like to write about a variety of things because I am involved in a wide range of things in my daily life. That is when it hit me, my life is a melting pot of activities and that would be the topic and theme of my blog. LIFE IS A MELTING POT covers anything and everything. My activities as a photographer, our families involvement with CPS/DHS, travel, genealogy, family events, work, or any other topic that I feel is worthy of comment. I hope you enjoy the blog, comment often, and become a follower/subscriber.