I have always packed what I consider light, a duffle and daypack, I am a carry-on only. It is not because of airline fees but mainly just my choice. It seems like before when I did check luggage it never arrived at my destination with me. But in today’s market, with ever increasing and changing fees, it has become a way of life for most travelers, one carry-on and one personal item.

Many people have asked me “how do you do it?” or “I need to learn to pack like you.” It does take some practice but for me it is just easier to travel light.  It doesn’t matter if it is one week or a month, one rule I follow is … if the item can’t be used for multiple purposes it doesn’t go.

 “You’ll never meet a traveler who, after five trips, brags: Every year I pack heavier.” ~ Rick Steves

There are dozens of websites and hundreds of articles that have tips and advice on “how to pack light” but it is just makes sense. Carrying LESS luggage means MORE freedom and LESS stress. There is no waiting at baggage claim so you are on your way out of the airport sooner with MORE time to explore. And with LESS luggage there is also LESS worry about keeping track of all of your bags as you move about.

Financially having LESS baggage gives you the option to share a taxi with others instead of filling the cab with your luggage which means MORE money. Or when using a rental car you are able to rent a smaller more cost effective vehicle. Traveling carry-on only there is no need to pay for porters or bell hops.

Physically speaking light luggage is much easier to carry or maneuver through airports, buses, hotels and airplanes. Did you ever try to drag a bag or two up several flights of stairs when the elevator was broken and the bell hops were nowhere to be found? And as for cruisers, you can get on the ship quickly and disembark the ship when you want!

So before your next trip assess what you really need to pack, you just may find you are able to live with LESS… at least temporarily!
 
 
Many countries around the world have a special day to honor and respect their veterans. Tomorrow in the United States we celebrate our veterans by honoring them for their service to our country with their own special day Veterans Day.

When an individual signs up to be a part of our military they are basically signing a blank check. They have no idea what signing their name will cost to them. Some pay the ultimate cost by giving their life. Many will never return to the same lifestyle they once had.

Many communities hold celebratory parades while a large portion of our restaurant industry honors our veterans with discounts or free meals for them on their special day.

Of course the retail market wants to give us all discounts if we shop!
Now the travel industry seems to be a bit behind in honoring our veterans. To the best of my knowledge rapid transit systems around our country do not allow veterans to travel for free on Veterans Day. The airlines do not offer veterans a discount if they fly on Veterans Day and they don't even offer them a free drink.

And I'm not aware of any hotel chain that offers a veteran a discount if they spend the night while traveling on Veterans Day.

Thanks to the veterans we have freedoms to go out to eat, ride on buses, fly on airplanes and spend nights in hotels around our country, seems all of these industries ought  to be thinking about thinking a veteran.

So tomorrow and for that matter every day if you see a veteran please thank them for their current 
And to ALL of my family and friends that have and are serving I 


      "THANK YOU"
 
 
Travel reminds me that I was meant to move, if I wasn't meant to move I would be a tree. A tree I find that kind of funny because in my tai chi class we talked about acting like a tree, reaching down into the ground to our roots. And in my yoga class we have a tree posture; even though I practice I am not tree!

Travel and moving is a lot of hurry up to wait. It is a lot of people standing in line waiting and wanting to do the same thing.
Travel is eating something that you can't identify but knowing that you'll probably eat it anyway.
Travel is planning where you will get your next "safe" drinking water.
Travel is wearing the same clothes multiple times in one week, with or without being washed.
Travel is making new friends in unlikely places.
Travel is educational, a fun way to learn.
Travel is knowing that you need to sleep but being afraid to do so for fear you will miss something. Travel is energizing yet tiring all at the same time. Travel is realization that we could probably live with less at home.
Travel is an appreciation of home, family and friends.

I guess I can continue to practice yoga and tai chi but I may never become a master because I was born to move.

What does travel mean to you?
 
 
As we said our good-byes the guys said I probably gave them a better description than they would have gotten at the local Chamber of Commerce and maybe I should consider working for them. They graciously thanked me and went on their merry way.

So I was on one of my annual trips to Apollo Beach Florida and I had a free afternoon. The kids were in school and I didn’t have any plans with friends so I decided to head down to the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve.

The nature preserve is located on the east side of Tampa Bay. (See a previous blog 11/7/11 Apollo Beach, on Florida’s Gulf Coast) I just wanted to hit the beach to maybe find a few special shells or sea glass. As I parked the car two gentlemen approached me to ask a question “I suppose this lady will know the answer to this” said one of them.

They wanted to know which of the set of buildings were Tampa and which set of buildings were St. Petersburg. I told him it wasn't a local but I certainly could clarify the sets of buildings. I told them I might be able to help them out with some additional questions. And yes indeed I answered their questions plus many more to their satisfaction. Another lady standing nearby verified my comments, “Yes she is correct about all of it.”

I did the same and resumed my search along the narrow beach looking for shells, sharks teeth and sea glass. 
As I got back into the car it kind of tickled me that although I'm not a local I am starting to give advice to other people; people that are thinking about moving to the area.

Since I visit at various times of the year I can't truly be called a winter snowbird but I'm thinking I might be more correctly called an Apollo Beach manatee.
 
 
Because of recent events the United States general population is finally becoming more aware of an international problem. Ebola has come to the United States; in fact it has affected my home airport Hopkins in Cleveland Ohio. This occurrence happens just days before I am scheduled to fly out of Hopkins myself.

Am I concerned, sure, will it change my travel plans, no, well maybe, I have made no immediate plans to return to Africa…at least not for awhile but I will return. It is an amazing continent.

Being a nurse I know it is not airborne but I am one of those people you see on a plane wiping down the tray tables, arm rests, ect., the flu is far more contagious. Are airports and airplanes cleaned thoroughly enough between flights, no. For those of us that fly frequently I often see flight attendants picking up trash between flights and I have never smelled bleach on a plane or in an airport.

Despite nurse's obsession with cleanliness the newest US patients are nurses.

We are a global society and it's about time we start acting like one. I hear a lot of people complaining that we need to restrict flights from Africa, at least temporarily, that is totally unrealistic. First of all most flights are not direct flights in to Africa and it is a really big continent. So are we going to stop flights from Europe also? And let’s not forget the flights that make their first stop in Canada, should we stop flights from Canada? The disease has a fairly long incubation, up to 21 days. So should we stop flights from Australia and Asia just in case someone flew from Africa there before flying to the US 2 ½ weeks later?
As a healthcare worker I am concerned, but I am also concerned because I am a world traveler. I don't want this horrific disease to affect anyone anywhere. And as a healthcare worker I feel that the medical profession here in the United States and generally speaking worldwide is totally unprepared to handle the epidemic proportions of this terrible disease. Unfortunately most feel that it is “Africa’s problem.”

In most situations, until recently, emergency room personnel, first responders and primary care physicians fail to ask their patients whether they have been out of the country recently when they are feeling ill. I am required to take yearly competency testing on things such as testing a patient's blood sugar, yet I have never received any instructions on screening a patient for Ebola until the Cleveland Ebola scare broke on our local TV news. Do I feel as a society or as the medical profession are we prepared, no. Ironically my PCP always asked me "when did you leave the country last?" And "Where were you?"

Instead of complaining about restricting world travel we, meaning the entire world need to focus more on controlling infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis, AIDS and Ebola. Unfortunately these diseases and also Malaria are very prevalent in Africa and remember, more people die of AIDS and Malaria than of Ebola.
Remember we are all in this together.

 
 
I have been fortunate enough to be on several African photo safaris. When booking frequently accommodations will advertise and complement themselves on the view they have especially if the view includes the possibility of wildlife sightings.

 I have been lucky in that while staying at some of these places I have had wonderful wildlife encounters. Often times by driving a few miles away from my accommodation I have seen even a broader variety of wildlife.
Until recently I never thought about the view that I have from my own home office window. My window overlooks a vacant mostly weed covered wooded lot. In the past looking out my window I have seen groundhogs, rabbits, white tailed deer, Mallard ducks, turkey vultures, mourning doves, squirrels, Golden Tail Hawks and a variety of other native Ohio birds. 

From other windows in my house I have seen opossum, skunks, raccoon, turkeys, garter snakes, field mice, moles, chipmunks, and an even greater variety of birds, butterflies and insects.
Just a few miles from my house I have seen bald eagles, blue heron, Lake Erie water snakes, Canadian geese, the elusive red fox, cormorants, screech owl, snapping turtles, a variety of sea gulls and let’s not forget a nice variety of fresh water fish. 

So if you can't run off on an animal photo safari to an exotic destination think about a photo safari in your own backyard, something we often overlook and take for granted.
 
 
Yesterday I learned that a dear friend departed on a permanent journey with God. Upon receiving this news I begin to reflect back on my life and past memories by going through photos, and by photos I mean a lot of photos.

I read somewhere that the average American household has approximately 5000 photos in it. I do not have the average American house. Until recently I printed an average of at least 100 to 150 photos after each adventure. If you multiply that by 48 US states and over 50 countries worldwide that is way more than 5000 photos. 

Again thinking of our friend and his belongings, he didn't have children, I wondered what would happen to my stuff after I depart on my final journey. Would my girls or anyone want any of my photos? With hundreds of photo albums in my office what would be done with them?

My photos have always brought me comfort looking back through them and also inspiration to continue on more adventures. But after receiving the sad news I spent yesterday afternoon beginning the process of digitalizing my old photos. It seems digital might be a more efficient method of storing my old photos.

I didn't just want to throw them away because in the future I am hoping that they will help me as my memory deteriorates. I am also hoping that the pictures along with my books will tell my story of my life to future generations.

As for the photos that have other people in them after they are digitalized I will see if they are interested in keeping them before they go out of my house and into the photo abyss.

What do you do with all photos?

And to Jeff, rest in peace my dear friend and thanks for so many wonderful memories.
            Sept. 22, 1953 - Oct. 5, 2014


                Life is short ... liv
e it
                Love is rare ... grab it
                Anger is bad ... dump it
                Fear is awful ... face it
                Memories are sweet ... cherish them.
                                           

 
 
Today is National Coffee Day so of course, that got me thinking about some of my special coffee moments.

One of my memorable coffee moments would be years and years ago while I was camping with my Girl Scout troop. In the morning after we finally got the fire started and water boiling in our old tin coffee cans I was finally able to pour water over my Folgers dipping coffee bags. It certainly does not sound like a memorable experience but after spending a night in a sleeping bag in cold and damp tent, that coffee was probably some of the best and most cherished that I have ever drank.

Another greatly appreciated coffee experience was after a long night flight to Sydney. After arriving at our hotel and being unable to check in because it was too early in the morning, we walked several blocks to McDonald's. McDonald’s, never one of my favorite places, but again that first cup of coffee seemed like we had made it to heaven.
While I was in Bali on a coffee plantation, I got to see a Civet, then drink Kopi Luwak better known as cat poo or monkey butt coffee; now that was a great coffee moment. I never thought I would be able to afford even a taste of the most expensive coffee in the world, yet there I was at a plantation where it was grown.
And there is nothing like sitting on a sunny porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean drinking your morning brew and watching the dolphins cruise the shoreline looking for their breakfast.

Another special “Coffee Moment” was when I landed for a layover in Addis Abba Bole International Airport. I didn’t drink a cup of coffee there, I inhaled my coffee; the fragrant aroma permeated the air in the airport. I will never be able to think of Ethiopia without a strong desire to have a cup of coffee!

And call me crazy but another special coffee moment is when I one way or another win a Starbucks gift card!! LOL


“Coffee is far more than a beverage. It is an invitation to life, disguised as a cup of warm liquid. It’s a trumpet wakeup call or a gentle rousing hand on your shoulder … Coffee is an experience, an offer, a rite of passage, a good excuse to get together.”                             ~ Nichole Johnson


For those of us that love our brew, java, joe, mud, cafe, coffee or whatever name you call it by, we know that life is better because of coffee!
 
 
Fall or autumn has officially arrived here in Ohio. I am not sure why anyone enjoys fall, I certainly don’t; it is even more dreary and gloomy than our usual weather. The sun is moving south making our days shorter, the birds are headed south too and the snowbirds are making arrangements to do the same.

It is a season to prepare for our cold snowy winters. It is a time to cover the patio furniture, put away the cheerful wind chimes and close the swimming pools.

It is also the end of our already short boating season, a time to bid our boating friends a good and hopefully short winter and to wish them a Merry Christmas.

Add all of that to the fact that fall also brings on seasonal allergies from falling leaves and dead plants. Allergies that bring us joyous days and nights of stuffy noses, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing.

There are a few people that claim they enjoy fall saying “it is so pretty with the yellow, red and orange leaves.” But they all will turn dismal brown and besides spring and summer flowers are even more colorful and they don’t need to be raked!

So tell me again why people believe they “like” fall?
 
 
Sometimes plans need to be followed through regardless of the weather because of their importance, not because of a monetary loss. Plans and events like participating in the Susan G Koman race for the Cure go on regardless of the weather, no excuses.

If it is important you find a way instead of finding an excuse.

This past weekend despite a dreary rainy morning I was proud to walk through the streets of Cleveland Ohio with my friends in support of the breast health, education, treatment and cancer support program.
Our team along with thousands of other participants donned their rain gear and fulfilled their commitment to walk or run at the planned event.
The event went on because... Some people don't have the time to wait for the storm to pass, for them we must learn to dance (walk/run) in the rain!
FLASHBACK
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Hooray for Team Bessas!!