Travel Quotes

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” Maya Angelou

....................."One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it is worth watching." Unknown..................

I would like to welcome new readers to my travel blog. If you are reading this for the first time, then I suggest you first read my introduction which I wrote last November when I started this. It explains why I am writing this and it gives you a little about my background. And most importantly it explains about my list and how it works. To go to that post, click on the following link -

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Ornaments From Around the World
An Update

I wrote an article for the blog back in 2011 about the ornaments I collect when I travel.  I bought my first foreign ornaments when we were stationed in the Philippines back in 1980.  And since then I have made it a point to collect an ornament for the tree wherever we travel.  I updated the article in 2016.  Since we took several trips this year and I have purchased more ornaments, I  thought I would do just a quick update.  If you would like to read the original article and the update you can click on this link.

Here are the ornaments from this years travels.

In March we traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  In Vietnam I bought this hat ornament, which is also a bell.

While in Cambodia, we were in a car driving up to Kulen Mountain near Angor Wat.  We stopped at a gas station and about 6 children surrounded the car wanting us to buy paper origami birds.  When I saw the red and green one I immediately thought - Christmas Ornament.  The little girl I bought it from was quite happy.

This little green elephant was my ornament from Laos.  While in Luang Probang, Laos, we visited an elephant sanctuary.  We were able to feed, wash and ride the elephants that day.  I knew that when I found an ornament for the tree, it had to be an elephant.

In September we traveled to Italy to celebrate our 50th anniversary.  We started in the north and worked our way south all the way to Sicily.  I bought quite a few ornaments along the way.  Here are my Italian ornaments

The ceramic tree on the left is from Varenna, on Lake Como.

The glass ball with the hearts on the right is from Murano, Italy.  Murano is famous for its glass blowing.

The ceramic ball below is from Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast.  We stayed in Sorrento and took a drive down the coast returning by boat.

The mouse-above on the left-is from the island of Capri.  It is also a bell.  The 3 legged woman is the symbol of Sicily.  We bought her in Taormina, Italy.  Her 3 legs represent the 3 islands that make up Sicily.

Our travels in 2018 will bring us more ornaments for our tree.  Merry Christmas, and Happy Travels to everyone in 2018!

An Update on our Lives

I haven't posted anything for awhile.  We returned from Italy in late September and I did post the trip report from that trip.  Now it is Christmas and it occurred to me that my blog is a bit out of date.  I need to at least make an effort to get things current, even though I am no longer sure that anyone is actually reading this.  Still, if someone were to stumble across the blog and decide to view it, things should be up to date, shouldn't they?

So, with that in mind, I plan to post an update to my Christmas decorations and add pictures of the ones I have bought since that posting, and that will be coming.

And to update you on some of our upcoming trips.  Our next trip will be in February when we will fly to Iceland for 8 nights, with the hope of seeing the northern lights.  If you check my current list, you will see that is on the list.  Of course, there is no guarantee that we will actually see the lights, there is a chance that we will not see them, they are illusive, or so I have been told.  If we don't,
then we will have to try again, maybe in Norway next time, who knows.  

Then in March I will be going on an 11 night cruise with a friend.  George is staying home for this trip.  We will be stopping in several places in the Caribbean with the highlight being 2 stops in Cuba, Havana and Cienfuegos.  Checking off another destination on my list. And adding 3 new countries to my list - Cuba, Jamaica and the Grand Caymans.

In May, George and I will fly to St. Petersburg, Russia and do a 14 day river cruise to Moscow.  From there we will fly to Warsaw, Poland and meet up with our Scottish friends, Myra and Malcolm.  We will spend 2 weeks exploring Poland with them.  So checking off Russia on my list and adding 2 more countries.  

And we also plan to do a Panama Canal trip in the fall, although that is not yet booked.

One of the reasons we are doing so many trips so close together is that this year we lost both of our dogs.  Sadie came down with cancer in February, just before our trip to Vietnam.  We lost her fairly quickly after the diagnosis, she wasn't getting better and we could tell she was in pain.  Baxter missed her, as did we.  Baxter was diabetic, mostly blind and mostly deaf.  But he still got around and was enjoying going for walks.  He was almost 14 years old and we knew we wouldn't have him long. We had a trip planned for Italy in September, and I worried about leaving him.  The trip was to celebrate our 50th anniversary, something we planned ahead for and didn't feel we could change. A neighbor took good care of him, and he was doing good when we got home.  But in October he all of a sudden couldn't walk and so we had to say good-bye.  Loving our animals as we do, that is always the hard part, saying good-bye.  We have decided to wait awhile before getting another dog.  So without any animals we have decided to get some big trips taken care of.  Then next October we plan to get another dog.  I can't imagine my life without one.  Right now though, we are still grieving for Baxter and Sadie.  They were the best!

So, life goes on.  We look forward to the holidays.  Our tree is up and our house is decorated.  Then we look forward to the travels we have planned.  To anyone who is reading this, Happy Holidays and I hope 2018 is a good year for you.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

We  just got home from Italy

While I don't post as often as I used to, we are still traveling.  We just took a 24 day trip through Italy, starting in the north at Lake Como and working our way all the way to Sicily.  If you would like to read about our adventures and look at the pictures, go to the side panel - Trip Reports and you will find the Italy trip at the bottom of the list.  Or you can click the link below and it will take you there. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Trip

We just returned home from a 24 day trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  It was a great trip.  As usual, my husband wrote Trip Reports home to family and friends.  I always take those reports and put them together into one long report, add pictures, and post them under the heading on the side of this blog - Trip Reports of Trips We Have Taken.   If you go to the link below you can read all about our latest adventure.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Ornaments From Around the World

The red sphere is from Las Vegas
The embroidered fish
from China
A few years ago I did a post about my Christmas ornaments.  Whenever we travel I purchase at least one Christmas ornament from each destination.  Those are my favorite souvenirs.  I only see them once a year when the tree is up.  But when we are putting them on the tree I remember where I bought it and I remember the trip.  I originally wrote the article in 2012.  Since then we have traveled to many more places and I have added to the decorations.  I have to say that my tree is running out of room for many more.  It is a 10 1/2 ft. tree, but it is getting very full.  The decorations are not all from my travels.  Over the years friends have given me ornaments and I have some that I made.  I also put glass balls on the tree because they reflect the light and fill in spaces.  But my favorite decorations are always from places I have visited.

Below is the posting I did in 2011.  Then below that is a new posting from this year with pictures of some of the ornaments I have collected since then. 

Christmas ornaments are one of the best ways to express the cheer and meaning of the holidays in one of the simplest ways. The different themes and feelings can be conveyed merely through Christmas ornaments. A history of love and connections spoken in ornaments, hanging upon the boughs of pine-scented greenery.

Capiz Shell Angel from the PI
In a recent posting I talked about buying souvenirs.  I always tell myself I will not buy more stuff on my next trip, and inevitably I end up buying something.  My biggest weakness is Christmas ornaments, which I have collected for years, from every place I have ever visited.  It started in the Philippines when we lived there in 1979.  Up until that time my tree always just had lights and the standard balls hanging on the tree.  Then I discovered the capiz shell and hand-embroidered ornaments of the Philippines.  They were beautiful.  And my collection started.

Since then I have added to my collection.  I have a very eclectic assortment of ornaments.  I never buy something that says where it is from.  I don’t want a tree that screams tourist shop.  Even though the ornament doesn’t say anywhere on it where it is from, I can tell you where each came from.  It is part of my memories of my trip.

Silk Elephant from Thailand
The Celtic horn is from Ireland
It has sometimes been difficult to find an ornament to bring home.  Quite often we travel during the summer months, and most places do not have Christmas ornaments out in the middle of summer.  And then there are the countries where Christmas is not really celebrated.  For instance, I had a hard time finding a Christmas ornament in Thailand.  But I did find some small silk elephants in a shop, and they hang on the tree quite nicely.

Camel from Turkey
The feather ornament is a Dream Catcher from Alaska
In Turkey, last year, I was looking
for an ornament, and ended up buying a small camel which has an opening on his back, which can be a small compartment to hold something.  It is metal, and fairly heavy.  It does not have a hangar, but I was able to rig a ribbon through the magnetic opening on the back.

Nutcracker from
When we were in the Canary Islands in September 2003, I kept looking for an ornament.  The last week we were there I found a small frog with lights wrapped around him.  It also doesn’t have a hangar, but I wire him onto the branches. 

Quite a few of my ornaments are from our trip to the Christmas Markets of Germany, Austria, Hungary and The Czech Republic.  We did a cruise down the Danube, stopping at different Christmas Markets along the way.  I bought ornaments at every stop. 

Some of my favorite ornaments that I put on the tree each year are:

My angel from Rome, Italy
The pewter wreath from Athens, Greece

Straw Angel from Hong Kong
Straw angels from Hong Kong
Victorian girl on an old fashioned bicycle
     from London
The Cloisonné heart from Beijing, China
The fur clad bear paddling a canoe from Alaska
The alligator from New Orleans
Red glass bauble from Las Vegas
     (it's Las Vegas gaudy)
My pickle from Germany – it is a tradition
      in Germany that whoever finds the pickle
     on the tree first, gets to open a
     special present.

As I have said, my tree is very eclectic.  I also have glass balls, and lots of lights, and I have had friends give me ornaments over the years, so those are mixed in as well. 

Mozart Bear from Salzburg
Panda from China

The goat is from Slovenia

Frog from the Canary Islands, Pewter Wreath from Greece
Reindeer is from PI
In the 4 years since I wrote this article we have traveled many places.  And even though my tree is getting very full, I am still buying ornaments.  They are the best souvenirs of my trips.  Some places have been easy to find Christmas ornaments, others not so easy.  We were in Africa in April 2013.  We were on safari and not in any big cities, so I wasn't sure I would find anything. Then while visiting a village in the Masai Mara I found 2 very different ornaments for sell.  Here are those ornaments.

The ball is hand carved with animals.  The other is beads on wire. They were both made as Christmas decorations.

We visited Australia and New Zealand and had no problem finding decorations there.  I had to have a koala, since I was actually able to hold one while there.  And the bird is a galah bird which we saw many of while in Australia.  In New Zealand I had to have a Pukeko, which is a blue flightless bird, which we also saw many of.

In Costa Rica we saw so many butterflies that I decided my ornament had to have a butterfly on it.

And a few other places we visited in the past few years,  From Portugal - the seahorse, Barcelona - the mosaic lizard, Paris - at the Opera House I got the Mouse King and from Amsterdam, a small windmill.  

Next year we have trips planned to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Italy, so I am sure I will be adding to my collection in those places.  Merry Christmas, Happy Travels to everyone in 2017!

Monday, December 5, 2016

"One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted .  Do it now."
Paulo Coelho
"Traveling.  It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story teller."
Ibn Battuta

I want my life to be more than just long

Some people are happy to spend their lives doing ordinary things.  They have their family and their homes and their routines and they go about living their lives doing the same things everyday.  And if they are happy doing that, then that is great.  I also have my family and a home, and I love my life, I wouldn't change it for anything.  But part of that life is the fact that I can't just spend my life doing ordinary things all the time.  I get restless.

I have had that restless streak in me my whole life.  I don't know why.  What made me this way?  It probably has something to do with my childhood, which was a fairly average childhood in a small town.  I had loving parents and siblings, and it was very average.  But I was in a small town, and I knew there was a big wide world out there.  And from a young age I yearned to see more of it.

I loved going into the city, which for me was Portland.  It was the closest big city to us, and my grandmother lived there.  There was so much more to do and see there.  I went as often as I possibly could, even managing to live there with my grandmother during my high school summers.

But Portland, though better than the small town, was not that exciting.  There was still a huge world that I desperately wanted to explore.  I dreamed of traveling the world.  For a long time that was just a dream.  I went to college for a couple of years.  Met a man, fell in love, got married and had a child.  So travel wasn't that easy.  We were young, and just getting by financially, with a young child to raise.

My husband was in the navy, so that did help some.  He got stationed in San Diego, and then on the east coast for awhile, and then back to San Diego.  So I got to see a few new places.  I met a lot of young navy wives who were not happy about moving around so often.  They didn't like being so far from their families, etc.  But I always looked forward to where our next duty station would be, and hoped it would be someplace exotic.  But for many years we stayed stateside.

Finally, we got stationed in the Philippines.  I was so happy, we were finally going to a foreign country.  It was the great adventure. I loved being in the Philippines.  It was so different from the states.  I loved roaming the markets early in the morning.  We purchased a car, and I would go exploring the local areas.  We took trips into Manila and Bagio and to Pagsanjan Falls. 

We also were able to take trips to some nearby locations.  Our daughter was on the base swim team and they competed against the Hong Kong team.  I was able to go along on the trip.  George couldn't go, he had to work  But I went along to watch the swim mete and then Kim and I stayed on for 5 nights after everyone else left, and we explored Hong Kong together.  I felt I was finally seeing the world.

From that trip my hunger grew.  I booked a trip to Singapore and Thailand for the 3 of us.  Then I took Kim out of school and she and I caught a navy flight to Japan.  We spent 10 days over there, mostly in Tokyo, but a few days in a small town by the navy base, waiting for a flight back,  We were on standby for 4 days, but between waiting for flights we were able to do a little exploring.

While in the Philippines we also took a trip to Taiwan - all 3 of us.  And we all went back to Hong Kong two more times.  I loved Hong Kong.  It was a quick plane trip, and so much to see and do.  It is a city I could have lived in.  I felt safe there, even walking around the streets at midnight.  So many people out and about all night, it felt as safe as during the day.

But for many years after coming back from the Philippines, we were unable to travel outside the country.  We were both working, and we did not have the money to travel.  My husband was still in the navy, and he got sent places for work, but I was unable to go with him.  I was envious when he went to Australia, Sri Lanka and even Okinawa.  Places I longed to see.

I lived an ordinary life, like so many.  Going to work, coming home, making dinner, cleaning the house and reading about places in the world that I wondered if I would ever see.  I wasn't unhappy, but I did long for more sometimes.

I'm reminded of the play Pippin.  In the play the character of Pippin is always looking for more.  He doesn't want to live an "Ordinary Life".  He felt he was destined for more. In the song "Corner of the Sky"  Pippin sings - "Don't you see I want my life to be something more than long.... Rivers belong where they can ramble... Eagles belong where they can fly... I've got to be where my spirit can run free... Got to find my corner of the sky."  But then at the end he discovers that the ordinary things are enough, and he finds happiness in love and just being an ordinary man. But as much as I love my ordinary life and my family, there is a part of me that has always yearned for an occasional adventure.  A chance to explore, a change in venue.  And so now that we are retired and have the financial means to do it, I have been exploring as much as I possibly can.

I find that as I get older I want to go more often.  I fear that old age will catch me before I see all the wonderful places in the world that I have yearned to see.  And I find my self wanting to do more challenging things.  Like in Costa Rica, I went ziplining, and then found myself climbing a tower and doing the Tarzan swing, by jumping off that tower.  I want to try more adventurous things, although I know that I have to be careful.  I have had knee replacement surgery and there are some things I just shouldn't do if I want to keep on traveling.  But I don't want to just watch, I want to participate in life.  I want to push a little and get out of my comfort zone and try new things.  I want my life to be a little exciting, and more than just long.

Our next adventure is Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, in the spring of 2017.  And I am looking forward to the adventure.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Haleakala National Park
And the Road to Hana
Maui, Hawaii

"Volcanoes are one way earth gives birth to itself."
Robert Gross
"As long as you're here in Hawaii you learn to have great respect for this particular goddess and you can see her work evident today at her volcanos."
Daniel Akaka

Image result for sign of haleakala national park
We recently went to Maui and drove up to the top of Haleakala Volcano to the National Park, and then the next day we drove the Road to Hana which also ends at the lower part of the Haleakala Volcano National Park.  We found both parts of the park quite interesting and I decided to add this park to my national park series.

I will start with the upper part of the park, the volcano itself. Visitors can drive to the top of the now dormant volcano.  The most popular time to go is early morning, to watch the sunrise. The Park headquarters and 10,023 foot summit can be reached from Kahului via route 37 to route 377 to route 378.  Driving time to the summit from the resort areas is about 2 hours.  Weather and viewing conditions at the summit are unpredictable and can change rapidly.  Be prepared for cold, wet, windy weather.

There are many tour companies that will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the summit to see the sunrise.  Most of those tours leave the tourist areas at around 2:30 in the morning, in order to get everyone to the summit in time to see the sunrise.  You can also drive yourself up, but be aware that you may get to the top and find no parking, because this is a very popular thing to do, even for locals.  So you need to arrive early.

The second most popular time to go is the sunset.  I read up online before we went, and so many locals said that the sunset was just as spectacular as the sunrise, and less crowded.

Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden
We decided that it made sense to go for the sunset.  We left mid-day and explored along the way.  We stopped at the Kula Botanical Gardens and walked through them. It was quite an enjoyable stroll, with some good photographic opportunities.  You can also visit a Lavender Farm which is nearby.  We stopped in the town of Kula and purchased some delicious sandwiches at the Kula Bistro, which I highly recommend.

We took the sandwiches with us to the summit and had a picnic while waiting for the sun to set.  Getting there early allowed us time to visit the Visitor Center at the summit and to take pictures into the crater before it got too dark.  We arrived around 4 PM, and we were glad we had that time.  It was also much easier to park then. The night we were there it got very crowded right at sunset and people were having a hard time finding parking.  Last minute visitors may not find a place to park, and then you would have to leave, after driving so far.  Also, it did get very chilly, we were glad we had brought our jackets.

Looking into the crater

And the sunset did not disappoint, it was spectacular.  

Us and the crowds,  enjoying the sunset

Another popular thing to do from the national park is the downhill bike tour.  Maui offers the longest downhill bike tour experience anywhere in the world! Participants are taken to the 10,000 foot elevation summit of Haleakala National Park for views into the crater, and then the ride down the mountain starts just outside the park boundary at an elevation of 6700 feet.  The ride is 26 miles, all downhill.  It can be done in conjunction with a sunrise tour, or anytime during the day.  It is not cheap, but is one of the most popular things to do on the island.

There are also many hiking trails from the summit area of the park.  There is some camping available and some cabins.  The cabins must be reserved ahead of time.  Pets are allowed in the national park, but of course, must be restrained at all times and you must pick up after them, which is always important no matter where you are.

Admission to the entire park is $15 for a three-day pass, this will get you into the summit area as well as the lower area near Hana.  Make sure you save your receipt.  Also, seniors who have the Lifetime Senior Pass may use this pass to get in.  If you are a senior and do not have the pass, you can purchase it there for use there and in other parks in the future - that pass is $10.
Just before sunset - the clouds rolling in over the top of the crater

Roadside stand, selling banana bread and
other things.
The other section of the national park is the lower section, which can be reached by driving the road to Hana.  There are CD's which can be purchased from any ABC store, which will give you information about where to stop along the road, and what you will see if you take a short hike into the rainforest.  You might also check with your resort before you go, our resort had CD's to loan and we just borrowed there CD.  They will also be able to tell you before you go if there is a problem with the road.  It is occasionally closed due to landslides during storms.  So check for driving conditions before you leave.  Leave early, it is a long drive, with lots to see.  Also, make sure you have a full tank of gas, the last place to purchase gas is Paia.  Take drinks with you, and maybe some sandwiches, although there are places to buy food along the way.  And one of my favorite things to do along the road, stop at some of the food/produce stands.  People are selling coconut candy, fruits, home-made banana bread and other things.  There are barbecue places, and at one of the falls a man was making baskets and grasshoppers out of palm fronds.

Sign on the road
The road to Hana is approximately four hours of driving time from your resort.  That doesn't include all the stops you will make along the way, so that is why it is important to leave early.  There are 617 switch back turns,54 one lane bridges where you have to stop and wait for oncoming traffic.  The road is 15 to 30 mph in most places.

There are many places to stop along the way, but sometimes hard to find a place to park as the road is narrow with only a few places to pull off, and those fill up quickly.  You will find lots of waterfalls, some are not visible from the road, but the CD will give you ideas of where to stop, and you can take a short hike into the forest, and if the conditions are right you can go for a swim.

One of the falls and pools at Ohe'o
The town of Hana is not the last stop on the trip, make sure you go on to the national park.  If you have already visited the summit you may show your receipt to receive admission to the park.  Otherwise you pay the $15 park admission (unless you have a yearly pass or a lifetime pass, see the red note above.)  Make sure you keep your receipt to visit the summit of the park.

So, you’ve probably heard this place referred to by many names, and you may be asking: “Which is it? ‘Ohe’o Gulch, Haleakala National Park Kipahulu, or Seven Sacred Pools?” The proper name of this attraction is ‘Ohe’o (Oh-Hey-Oh). “Seven Sacred Pools” is a name coined decades ago by the owner of what is now Travaasa Hana (previously Hotel Hana Maui) for the purpose of marketing this deservingly spectacular (but then unknown) remote location to tourists. Since this is part of the Haleakala National Park, the NPS has also added their own name to the mix “Haleakala National Park, Kipahulu.”

Another pool and falls
The most famous park of this park are the pools and waterfalls.  They are very popular, so you should expect the place to become more and more crowded as the day progresses – and there is such a difference between a crowded ‘Ohe’o madhouse and the less crowded majesty offered to the few that get here earlier in the day. There are a number of ways to avoid the crowds at ‘Ohe’o – all involve getting there before noon. Staying in, or along the Road to Hana (or in the campgrounds at the park) can get you there well before the afternoon rush.  There are also some excellent hiking trails in this part of the park.

If you drive straight through to the park and do the pools and waterfalls first, you can always explore the road on the way back.  That is hard though, you see all these places to stop and to just pass them by is hard, however the pull off places are crowded early in the day, and less so later in the day.

Now you may ask about driving on through the park and out the backside.  It is possible to do a circular trip which will not take you back to Hana and the curvy road.  It is actually much shorter and straighter and people do take this road all the time.  When we were here years ago we went that way, and it wasn't bad, and did leave us more time to explore and still get back to the resort early enough for dinner.  However, you must be aware that if you are driving a rental car and you break down on that section of the road, your rental contract does not cover you.  The roads are not paved in areas and there is no cell phone availability in some parts of this area.  So, you do so at your own risk.  This said, we did it the first time and considered doing it this time, but there had been some recent storms and we were told by our hotel that it would not be advisable, so this time we turned around and came back the same way we had come.  Always check with the locals before you do take that road.

Enjoy the park, both the summit and the Kipahulu section, and the Road to Hana.