As we are rapidly approaching the Christmas holiday and everyone is busy shopping for that perfect present, I've said it before (blog 12-10-12 The Perfect Lifetime Guarantee Gift) and I'll say it again give the gift of a memory making experience. Give a gift that they will remember for a lifetime, travel of course is my preference..

 In our materialistic world we all have too much stuff; very few of us need another sweater, another pair of socks or another electronic device. I say that because they are not memorable, do you remember the year you got that CD player and CDs for Christmas? Or the garage sale that you sold it at? And as for gift cards they come and they go; do you remember who gave you a certain gift card and when they gave it to you?

But I bet you do remember when you gifted a hot air balloon experience and shared it with someone? What about the year you adopted the kitten from the shelter? Or do you remember the gift you received of Cirque du Soleil tickets that you shared with the giver? And if you've ever received the gift of the NASCAR experience I know you'll remember it!
As you select those Christmas gifts forget the STUFF... thoughtfully choose those that will be remembered forever, because stuff too often ends up in a garage sale, Craig's List or a landfill!



1 Comment

So did anyone miss me the past couple weeks or even notice that I was gone? I was taking advantage of some exceptional travel deals.

It seems that the pre-holiday season is just possibly the best time of the year for travel deals. Thanksgiving week and the first few weeks of December offer phenomenal travel prices. Since my husband and I had no firm plans for Thanksgiving we took advantage of one of these deals, it was an 11 night cruise. And now the weeks after Thanksgiving have even better prices; prices that are almost too good to be true. But many people are not thinking of traveling they are thinking of Christmas shopping. However since the prices are so good many people were doing back-to-back cruises after Thanksgiving.

While we were on board we found many people that were cruising for quite the same reason. It seems that families no longer get together for massive Thanksgiving celebrations like they did when I was younger. As a child I remember my grandmother seating 20+ for Thanksgiving dinner now it seems many families go off in different directions and families are not together as a whole

Some older couples said that their grown children were off at in-laws. Still others were young families who did not feel as if they should travel to grandma and grandpa's house. With the exceptional prices we discovered many people were doing back-to-back cruises after Thanksgiving.

Despite being on board the ship I remembered what I was thankful for ... I have family and friends that are healthy, happy and secure enough to follow their own dreams. I am thankful that healthy enough to be able to travel with the one I love. Additionally I am thankful for so much more that I can’t possibly list on one page or in one day!

With prices so drastically cut I can only dream that someday I could do a Thanksgiving pre-Christmas cruise with my entire family. The cruise that I did many years ago as a family cruise is one of my fondest memories of which I am very thankful.
The tide rolls in, the tide rolls out.
Marsha rolls in, Marsha rolls out.
The world spins around and around,
Marsha is out, where can she be found?
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.