Anyone and everyone that knows me know that I love to travel. Travel defines me, it makes me happy, it is who I am, and it is part of my core. I think I am happiest when I am living out of a backpack, exploring, and learning.
Everyone also knows that I encourage people to travel as much and as often as possible. I believe travel makes us a better person, by learning and growing through exploration and experience. I think we become more compassionate and tolerant of people difference than ourselves.
"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living”. ~ Miriam Beard
When you travel you learn a lot about yourself, what you can deal with, what you can't deal with, what you can live with, what you can live without and how to find a happy medium. You in a sense become more balanced. You learn the valuable art of compromise. Travel also helps us to live more simply.
Sometimes we learn what is important in life and what is not; personal issues are put into perspective, problems are relative, few things last forever and few things are fatal. Traveling helps us get out of the daily rut that we often fall into.
Sometimes you even learn about your physical limitations. Beyond that there is plenty of research studies that show that people being active in their senior years stay healthier and live longer than those that do not participate in any type of activity. My Fitbit (activity tracking device) has proved to me that I am always more active when I am traveling.
I think travel makes us a more interesting person and creative person. What is the saying about necessity being the mother of invention? As for interesting, would you rather sit and talk to person that travels or a person that sits home and does nothing; a person that never leaves the safe confines of their own safe space? I know that when I see my nieces and nephews they pick my brain with questions regarding all of my travels, hungry to hear of actual experiences from someone they know instead of reading about it in a book.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. ~St. Augustine
“Travel is the only thing we buy that makes us richer”. ~Unknown
And so, go out and explore the world, see what changes for the better are awaiting you!
For most people not having a passport may not be a big issue or of any major importance in their life. It could be easily compared to as not owning a goldfish or not having a dictionary, trivial.
However, to me it is like being trapped or incarcerated in prison, it is a loss of my freedom, my freedom to choose where and when I can travel. Or maybe it can be compared to an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia.
And why am I feeling this way you may ask? It is because my passport is in the process of being re-newed! It is not in my possession.
So I guess until my new passport, passport number four, is issued to me I just need to remember to practice patience and to take a few deep breaths. I know this stressful time will pass and my freedom will be restored but until then... I am not happy!
The games are in full force. Every four years the world comes together for the games that we call The Olympics. It is a time when the world mutually is united for a purpose, sport, and competition. It is a wonderful festive time, and I have an acquaintance participating in the Sochi Olympic Games. And I wish her and her team well, bring home the gold!
There are 88 countries participating in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. So why is it that the world can jointly play games but we can't come together to work on the global issues affecting all of us? Extreme weather is happening worldwide possibly from the careless pollution of our air and water. However, we can't come together to work on solutions to save our countries from the devastating effects of our carelessness. These thoughts come just as US Secretary of State John Kerry calls climate change “catastrophic” and asks other countries to work more closely on cutting greenhouse emissions.
We can play world games as one but we can't save our endangered wildlife on a united front. Whales, sharks rhinos, manatees are dying in record numbers but we are not uniting to save them.
Maybe we need to offer gold to the country that comes up with a solution to unite our countries with a workable plan to control air pollution and emissions. Or a gold medal to the country that makes the world unite and realize we need to protect our endangered species.
Maybe one day we will unite the peoples of the world for more than just games and it will be forever and always instead of just every four years. Because …
“united we stand, divided we fall”.
Last week was Groundhogs Day and Phuxitawny Phil predicted we will have six more weeks of winter. Last fall the woolly bears with their wide brown middle section predicted a mild winter. We all know how that turned out! So how do we know Phil will be correct?
How much do we rely on the prediction of animals? Are they better weather indicators then meteorologists with their charts and gadgets??
In the fall, many people believe that they can monitor the activity of squirrels. If they are busy collecting and storing mass quantities of nuts for the upcoming winter, it is a sign of a long winter. Is that a prediction?
Does the increase in the thickness of hair on outside animals such as horses signify the severity of the winter?
If these animals know so much, why are we relying so heavily on our meteorologist when we can look in around backyards to prepare ourselves for the upcoming winter?
How do you prepare for winter, either physically or mentally? Are you a Snowbird or Apollo Beach manatee? If you are neither, I am open to suggestions on how I can prepare for the rest of this long winter.
I have recently returned from an extended Christmas vacation. Yes, I know it is February I said extended. I spent the last week of December and the entire month of January in Apollo Beach Florida.
I have previously blogged about Apollo Beach being small time old style Florida, my type of Florida. It has far less commercialism than the Gulf Coast communities do. In addition, this extended trip just happened to occur during the dreariest month in Ohio. Moreover, it took place during the unusually cold record-breaking winter that has/is occurring in the Midwest and Northeast.
When I look at the temperatures in Florida and compare them to the cold weather happening in the north I know why many people become Florida snowbirds. However, I have decided I will never be a Florida snowbird. Florida snowbirds are content to live anywhere in Florida where it is warm. Instead I think I will become and Apollo Beach manatee.
The manatees return each winter to the Teco Big Bend power plant in Apollo Beach and to the federal manatee sanctuary located there. The manatees like to return to the warm water of the power plants discharge units. That would be me, I like being on or in the warm water too.
One day while visiting the Manatee Viewing Center during one of my many visits, I spoke with one of the volunteers who told me she was a snowbird. When I said that I could never be a snowbird, she gazed at me in shocked disbelief. I told her “I need to be in Apollo Beach Manatee”. Her response was “But they are only here in the winter”. “Exactly”. In the summer, I could go back to Ohio and my home waters of Lake Erie.
Thankfully, for me this year the seasonal affective disorder and dreary days of winter should be shorter. I'm not and Apollo Beach manatee yet, but it was sure a lot of fun practicing!!!
The Gasparilla festivities in Tampa Bay Florida are the world’s largest and oldest pirate celebrations. The people in the Tampa area celebrate the life of a pirate that invaded the area, when they couldn’t beat him essentially they joined him. Jimmy Buffett celebrates the life of “A Pirate Looks at 40”. Johnny Depp makes us all want to be a pirate depicting the role of Capt. Jack Sparrow; even Disney makes us laugh and enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean and Capt. Hook.
We also affectionately attach the pirate terms for our sports teams... the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Oakland Raiders.
I had the enjoyment of participating in the invasion flotilla of the 2014 Gasparilla. The festivities were beyond my wildest expectations and I have the beads to prove it.
The definition of a pirate is a person that performs an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea or along a shore. However today we use our imagination and generally consider pirates to be people with a rebellious nature. Often times their questionable attire contributes to their fanciful lifestyle. Even the traditional icon the "Jolly Roger" flag contributes to the notion of merriment.
Now let's flip that Pirates doubloon coin and talk to Capt. Richard Phillips, from the Maersk Alabama would he sensationalize the life of the pirates off of Somalia as fun?
In Tampa’s case the good citizens celebrate a day of gaiety. But before we decide ...”Yo ho the pirates life is for me”, please remember that it is all for fun at Gasparilla, like Mardi Gras or Carnivale because the reality behind it all is that a pirates life is less than honorable.
Today's advanced technology is amazing. With the convenient electronic wireless gadgets, we have available today we are able to do almost anything quickly and efficiently with just the click of a button. We can watch movies, listening to music, do our banking, check our medical records, listen to the news, monitor our homes, follow our children, check our mail, and talk to people around the world on conference calls effortlessly. We can even attend virtual classes. All of this can be done from practically anywhere, the beach, the car, a boat, probably soon on airplanes or even a bathtub! I love my Iphone and Ipad, especially when I travel; they keep me connected to family, friends, and the world in general.
It can be great being so connected... however; sometimes we really need to disconnect. We need to break away from technology overload.
Research has found that obesity can be partially blamed for technology. We don’t need to get up and change the TV channel or even answer the phone anymore. Many people do not need to vacuum their homes; a robot does that for them.
Studies have also shown that the constant stimuli from the electronics is causing disruptions in sleep patterns, lack of sleep can contribute to numerous health problems.
We are now more connected than ever before, attached to our electronic leashes, checking and re-checking multiple times a day, for some multiple times an hour! However eventually that constant connection will catch up, and can cause problems, both mental and physical.
Everyone needs time to disconnect and disconnect in his or her own way. I have found that my favorite ways to disconnect are practicing Tai Chi and kayaking. I have told people that when I am on my kayak if you are not within screaming distance of me then you are not in my world!
What is your favorite way to disconnected?
Often times when we travel, we find things that are extremely annoying to us. Things like cold food on what is called a hot breakfast buffet at your hotel, or a low cell phone battery, slow or nonexistent Wi-Fi signals and businesses they don't accept credit cards without an additional fee added.
The more I think of these little annoyances the more I realize how selfish I am being. When I first started traveling many, many years ago motels and hotels never included a breakfast, which was something you had to go out to a restaurant and buy on your own.
You never had to worry about a low cell phone battery, we didn't have cell phones! You had to look for a pay phone and hope you had a quarter to use it. Oh and then of course, you prayed no one stole the phone book so you could look up the number you needed to call!
And that goes for wi-fi also, there wasn’t any wi-fi, wi-fi was something that we saw on a science-fiction movies.
Back in my early days of travel people frequently used bank traveler’s checks instead of cash when traveling, not many people or banks had credit cards.
Oh and I did I forget annoying people in other countries, with their strange customs and habits. Years ago the only annoying people around me were my neighbors and siblings!
In addition, what about the constant heckling of the medical community to apply an abundance of sunblock in those warm tropical destinations? Years ago, we never applied sunblock, heck we covered ourselves in baby oil so we could burn and get a brighter color to let everyone know we had been on a vacation! We knew nothing about the dangers of the sun and skin cancer.
With all of that being said, I'm just thinking we could all lighten up more than our luggage and be a bit more tolerant of these little annoyances that we encounter along the way. Remember, travel wasn’t always as easy as it is today, with or without the annoyances!
Well we have almost made it through week one of the New Year; and many of the people living in the United States are getting an extended holiday, or at least many schoolchildren are getting a longer break! Mother Nature seems to be giving us her idea of a holiday gift, time off from work or school to spend either at home or stuck in an airport. How many storms have we been hit with already? And how many flights have been canceled? Let’s not even talk about the flight delays!
With nasty blizzard-like weather conditions, (don’t even try to tell me you like cold and snow, no one likes temperatures that bitter cold) it is certainly time to think about planning your 2014 V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N !! But can you even wrap your mind around planning a trip when quite possibly you are still recovering from the chaos of your last trip?
How do you plan your journeys? And when you plan do you have a backup plan? You know a Plan B or maybe even a Plan C? I have to admit I generally do not have a firm Plan B in place. It seems often time success comes with Plan B.
I do have general preparations in place like carrying snacks in my bag, along with extra clothing. I also make sure I have contact numbers programmed into my phone and I generally monitor weather conditions to pro-actively change travel plans before conditions worsen.
What plans do you keep in place during your travels? What advice can you offer to new travelers or those that maybe afraid to plan their 2014 vacation.
It's that time of year again when we all vow to make resolutions for the New Year. Optimistic resolutions that are intended to change either us or the world for the better. These frequently unrealistic resolutions quite often will be broken by the end of January, or at the very least by mid February.
I think we all need to make simpler resolutions. Resolutions that some may think of as just taking baby steps, steps toward a final obtainable goal, smaller steps may last longer than a few weeks.
Looking back at my resolutions from 2013, I found that I was able to keep many of them.
I resolved to live a healthier lifestyle. I started to work out and continue to work out on my treadmill and elliptical. I also began the practice of mafism; I stopped eating mammals.
I did not resolve to lose weight but as it turns out by living healthier lifestyle, I have maintained my current weight. Therefore, I guess that is a plus because I didn't put on any extra pounds.
I also decided to learn something new, I started classes to learn the art of tai chi. I'm not great at it yet and for 2014 I resolve to continue to learn to perfect the art of tai chi.
In 2014 I think I will also try to decrease my carbon footprint. I have always believed in the practice of reduce, reuse, and recycle, but maybe I can try even harder. I will try to remember to use my reusable coffee cup, grocery bags and water bottle more consistently.
Maybe I will also consider sticking to local wines to reduce fuel used for transportation costs and the associated global effects.
And with global in mind I resolve to continue my education with more exploration of the world, learning about new cultures and traditions.
There are many more resolutions that can be considered and hopefully they will come to me in the next few days. But until then, think about your own choices for the upcoming year and...
WELCOME 2014 !!!