Value Your Own Opinion

Maybe you don’t remember the moment you first opened your Facebook account, your first tweet, or pic on Instagram. But I bet you remember the first negative comment you received on something you TRULY loved that you were sharing. A moment,  piece of magic in your life that you thought “hey, this is worthy of sharing my soul with the World” and then someone says something, and that beautiful minute you were proud of gets buried in self- doubt.   WHY do we do this to ourselves?

When I first started this idea, I had grander plans than I have shared. I was going to share it this way, and that way, and I was going to put it out with every means possible and through any source possible.  And as things started to grow, I felt the enjoyment of what I was about to do starting to shrink. No longer was I excited about having the adventure, I was too stressed about sharing it.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I can’t help myself but share… but here’s why. For me, I see a beautiful Mountain, and I think to myself “Oh my God, this moment, this place, I must show someone else so they too can come here and see it and feel how I feel.”  No longer do I want to, nor need to, feel that I need the Like, Hit, Thumbs Up, etc.. to appreciate how “I” feel in that moment. I want to share because I enjoy it, because it is fun, because it will inspire adventure and kindness in someone else. And if it doesn’t, move on to the next one.

Too many times I put out something of myself through writing or pictures, and by the way, that is what we ALL do, and I obsess on the comments. Why? I loved the pic I took, I want to KEEP loving the pic I took, and it seems that we let others decide for us what we will find worthy IN OUR OWN LIVES. How insane is that?  I am guilty of reading comments on articles BEFORE I even read the article, and I always ask myself “Why am I doing this?” I was interested in the what and why of the story, but I jumped to that section without even thinking about it.  I have got to rewire my brain, read the story, and then move on.

I leave a month from today- holy crap. And I. Am. Excited!!!!  Of course I will share on FB, YouTube, Instagram, and here of course.  But I decided months ago that my sharing would be more of a virtual journal for myself. So one day when I am old and grey (God willing) and I am unable to do these things anymore, I can look back on all of my pictures, videos, and smile about the holy hell of an adventure that I had the guts to take myself.  I won’t care then about the comments, I won’t care about the haters who are clearly jealous, and I certainly am not going to regret a second of any footage taken.  THIS is why we should be recording ourselves and lives, THIS.  To see that we took chances, and we laughed in the face of fear.  To watch ourselves make the impossible, possible, and to enjoy every laugh line, wrinkle, and grey hair. To enjoy our youth today, to enjoy our age today, our kids, our families. How many times do we all look back and long for “those days?” Guess what? YOU ARE IN THEM NOW!!!  Of course we are getting through hard times now, of course the last year sucked. But I guarantee that through all the hardships and loss, that the sun does rise again. 

So I am making this vow to all of you now that I promise to value my own opinion on my amazing adventure. If I don’t share something “on time” (my standards of it) then oh well.  I didn’t answer a bunch of emails? I will get to them AFTER my experiences. In this World of “Stop everything to answer that text, email, etc..” I think we have forgotten that we don’t HAVE too. Now, I do because I don’t want to come off rude, but there is time you can put between them for your sake and self-preservation.  I will remind myself every day of this journey of how immensely blessed, lucky and fortunate I am to be ABLE to do this.  I will enjoy for those who I have lost and cannot be there, and I will enjoy for those who cannot do something like this at all.

One month countdown has begun….

Under 5 Week Countdown….

I don’t know about you, but when I plan a trip I have all these little things I have to get done for it and here at home before I leave.  Everything from buying bear spray (which I never knew was a thing until now) to my own porta john… needless to say, my deliveries have been comical to say the least.   Did you ever order so much that you can’t remember WHAT you ordered and then it’s like Christmas morning every time the Amazon truck dops off? LOL So I thought I would share with you where I am at… 33 days out.

For a year of traveling, there is quite a bit involved. I have so many people I want to visit, meet up with, and so on, so it’s been a bit challenging trying to get everyone on the same page with that.  Not difficult, but think about your year starting June 1st and who you could all visit across the great Nation and then schedule ALL of them.  I have to say, I am getting quite good at it, but still challenging to find the right spots to meet up so they coincide with my travel interests as well.  No, I don’t have to schedule everyone right now, but yes, I have people scheduled out 6-9 months even because I just want the seed planted that I will be in their neck of the woods, and I would LOVE to come and see them! So even if I am just a place holder in their head right now, I will take it.  SOOOOO excited to love on all my friends!!

Reservations have been going well, it is trying to connect the dots that is a little trickier. Some spots were sold out, so I would have to accomodate to the next town or city, which adds more to driving time and less from touring time.  I have booked some amazing places to stay that I CANNOT WAIT to show yall!

So far I have also booked camping in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and more National Parks to come.  Craig says my car will be filled with more camping equipment than actually anything else…. maybe. BUT my Dad taught me to BE PREPARED!!!! (Bonus points if you sang that in your head like Scar from the “Lion King”).  Bought a brand new, pop-up tent that I took for a spin in the yard to make sure I could put it up and take down on my own.  As much as I love something “brand new” when I first use it, this isn’t the time.  Nothing would be more upsetting than to be out in the Wilderness and realize that the tent had a defect or I couldn’t figure it out, and now I am sleeping in my car (which I am ALSO prepared for in case of bears).   Yeah most of what I have bought is for camping, but I figure that if I like it that I will do more and now I have everything for the next time.  And if I hate it, I will give it to Craig or the girls and they can have a go at it.  I got these cute little bonfire cannisters for when I just want to roast a marshmallow and I don’t want to make a huge fire, a mess kit, collapsible bowl for washing my dishes, my porta potty, camping chair, and some more odds and ends. I’m stoked!

Everything else is falling into place, reserving tickets for events and attractions. Today the Glacier National Park reservations open, so that’s on the roster for today, which many of the Parks are doing. I got my NP Annual Pass in the mail, woot! So slowly but surely, I’m making small steps towards the bigger picture.  I even started to pack my “cubes” in my office for my car so that I know what is what.  I use the ones from IKEA and one is for camping, one is for blog stuff, one is for car maintenance and safety, and so on. I can get about 5 in my trunk with room to spare for tent, bucket, chair, etc… Then I have the entire back seat for more stuff, and the front for my cooler and driving stuff. I don’t like to add to much to the front seat because people will be joining me all over the place and I want the space to be able to toss stuff in back and let them ride with me and not look like a hoarders car.

To me being organized for a huge adventure like this is key to not losing my mind. If I can find things easily at the many stops I will be taking, it is less stressful and continues my mindset that I am able to accomplish what I set out for.  If my car is messy and disorganized, I have high anxiety and wind up saying “Screw it, I can’t find it” and then find what I wanted AFTER the adventure and it’s now useless or pointless.  Like last time, my car slowly started to empty out with stuff being used or given away, so it’s a win, win.  I think I’m ready, well I am getting ready, not there yet, but with the week I have had, I am trying to stay busy.  So there you go. Thanks to EVERYONE for their great tips, information, and so on that you comment or send me.  It’s pretty cool to hear someone say something about a State and know that I could try to see it, so keep them coming. Have a great day!

The Old Town Trolley Tours in St. Augustine, FL, 2021

During the weekend of April 24-25th, 2021, Craig and I headed to St. Augustine for a relaxing weekend of good eats, fun shopping, and just something different. Besides Disney, this area makes our top 5 sites to see in Florida. There is so much to see and do, and there just isn’t a bad place to eat. If you love the quaint feel of walking down a street lined with buildings, no cars, and just that sense of relaxation as you peruse the windows of every store, this is the place for you. Well, at least St. George Street is.  Because there is SO MUCH to see and do, you need at least 2-3 days to see it all. Or repeated visits, like we do.  On this visit, we went to the Visitors Center to ask about any tours. When we have been to a lot of it already, it’s fun to shake it up and do something different. Also, side note, the PARKING GARAGE at the Visitors Center is a GREAT way to park for the day! It is right by everything except the Lighthouse and the outer lines of St. Augustine. It’s $15 to park there for the day, but they will charge you again for the same day if you to need to come back so just know that. If you are looking for FREE Parking, there is at the Castillo and the Old Jail.

Once you leave the garage, the Visitors Center is right there and is great pit stop as well as a tourists dream to see what there is all to experience. So here is where we started on this trip, and signed up with the “Old Town Trolley Tours” which has MANY packages. The packages include many of the tourist hot spots, which they roll into one ticket price which includes the trolley transportation the entire day and then the second day is also free.  They pick up and drop off all over town, so you can get off and on as you please, wearing their sticker so they know who has paid for the trolley. We chose the $71 package which included Ripley’s Before it or Not Museum along with the Old Jail, General Store, and History Museum. We figured we wanted the Trolley Tour and we were going to check out Ripley’s, so we might as well get the package. Now, they sell you a $5 Guidebook because it gives you more detailed info about your tour. BUT I have to say, the free coupon guide and the small guide map, is PLENTY enough unless you need to details. Yes, I bought it for this post. LOL Oh and side note, most of us don’t save the guide maps past the day we use them. If you want them for a reference, or even for that day, take a pic of them with your phone so you have a copy.

So we headed out across the street, Ripley’s is literally right there, so you don’t have to wait for the Trolley on this one- just walk out and take a left.  Then once you leave, there is a stop right there to pick up the Trolley. Ride the entire tour, takes about 90 minutes, and has 22 stops.

22 Stops:

1a. The Old Jail (FREE PARKING LOT for everything on #1)

1b. The Oldest Store Museum Experience

1c. History Museum

1d. Gator Bob’s Gift Shop and Penny Arcade

2. Visitor Information Center

2a. Project Swing

2b. Spanish Trail Marker

3. Potter’s Wax Museum

3a. Tolomato Cemetery

3b. Old Drugstore

3c. The Presidio

4. City Gate

4a. Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse

4b. St. George Pedestrian Mall

4c. Huguenot Cemetery

5. Colonial Quarter

5a. Pirate and Treasure Museum

5b. Cuna Street

6. Matanzas Bayfront

6a. Charlotte Street

7. Hypolita Street

7a. St. Photios Shrine

7b. Pena-Peck House

7c. Grace United Methodist Church

7d. Ancient City Baptist Church

7e. Spanish Street

8. Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church

8a. Hotel Ponce De Leon

8b. Markland

9. Villa Zoradya

10. Lightner Museum

10a. Casa Monica

10b. Lincolnville

10c. Dr. Hayling’s Dentist Office

10d. Cora Tyson’s House

10e. Yallaha Plantation

11. St. Augustine Distillery

11a. Solla Carcaba  Cigar Factory

12. San Sebastien Winery

13. Whetstone Chocolate Factory

13a. Art Galleries

14. Cathedral Basilica

14a. Plaza De La Constitucion

14b. Government House

14c. South St. George Street

14d. Trinity Episcopal Church

15. Aviles Street

15b. Historical Society

15c. Ximenez-Fatio House

15d. Spanish Military Hospital

16. Oldest House

16a. St. Francis Barracks

16b. National Cemetery

16c. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

16d. Bridge of Lions

16e. Treasury Street

17. Castillo De San Marcos

17a. Fort Mose

17b. Fort Matanzas

18. Ripley’s Believe it or Not

18a. Warden Castle

19. Welcome Center

19a. Uptown San Marco

19b. Abbott Tract Historic District

20. Mission Nombre De Dios

20a. The Great Cross

20b. Father Lopez Statue

20c. The Shrine To Our Lady of La Leche

21. Old Senator

21a. Magnolia Avenue

21b. Florida School for the Deaf and Blind

22. Fountain of Youth

Now, this trip, we were just interested in the tour itself, not the stops, so we rode a long time…. Took a toll on our butts and backs after a while.  What I enjoyed about the ride is that the guide was very informative and was easy to understand. What I didn’t like about it was that they repeated certain areas over and over again, and yes, on the same tour. We didn’t get back off and on, so it was a bit annoying to see the same area AGAIN when we had JUST driven past it 5 minutes ago. Maybe that’s how they have to drive it. Keep in mind MANY of these stops are separate admissions, some are just to walk around and check out, and some like the Distillery and Winery give a free pour and tour. Plus you also get a coupon book for even more savings!

I think if you just want to park for the day, which is smart because parking around all of the sites listed above just doesn’t exist or is incredibly limited, then park in the garage and do this trolley. ESPECIALLY if you want to drink at the Distillery, around town, etc. – safer and probably a lot more fun. Driving on these smaller streets isn’t smart either- it’s like squeezing down the corridors of New Orleans- it’s just anxiety inducing and there are WAY to many people to maneuver around.  I definitely think it’s worth the money, and you get the second day free, so if you are there for the weekend, it’s perfect! I hope this helps and have a great day!

 P.S. Like the Disney Parking Trams… always exit RIGHT!

The Paranormal Investigation at the Old Jail in St. Augustine, Florida

Why do some like the dark corners, and still love the feel of the light? I ask myself this all the time when ghost hunting, and it’s all because I saw my Grandma the night she passed away. You don’t have to believe me, heck, it’s not your story to tell. But it was a connection I had made that made me question the after-life. So when I can, I try to sign up for Ghost Tours around the Country, hearing a mystery history adds a bit of charge to the tale. Craig signed us both up for the “Old Jail” at St. Augustine in Florida…and I was all in!

If you haven’t been to St. Augustine, it should be at the top of your Florida Favorites list! Located a little over an hour from the Orlando area, is the oldest city in America.  From National Monuments to Haunted Lighthouses…this city has it all.  No, you aren’t going to find thumping night clubs and wild dance floors, but you will find a pub every 10 feet on St. George Street, along with incredible dining and deserts.  I have been fortunate to take part in the Ghost Tour at the Oldest School House in the city, so I was pretty pumped to try another one at a different location.

Researching which Ghost Tour is for you is KEY in having a good time.  There are two VERY different experiences to be had when participating in one. Either you just want a history tour with some spiritual spookiness thrown in, sometimes LIVE actors to set the scene, with usually a ride on a trolley, bus, or a walk through with a guide.  Entertaining, light, and fun.  The other experience is a Paranormal investigation. They take you through a series of tools that they provide, or they let you use and bring your own in, tell you some of the history of the area, and then let you into said place and you grab your tool of choice and you are an official Ghost Hunter!

Our tour was the 8:30 p.m. slot, booked about a month ahead of time. This place is VERY popular, so make sure you book at least a month out.  They have you come about 15 mins early, restrooms available right before you head in, and then we met “Shelby” who was out Guide for the evening.  She was fun, hilarious, and a great storyteller.  Nobody wants to take a ghost tour with a guide who doesn’t believe or isn’t into it, and her and the other one “Bill” CLEARLY love what they do and were incredibly kind and helpful.

After the explanation of the tools, and being told there is a “crawler” entity that has been seen, I was a bit hesitant on this one.  I don’t mess with the demonic stuff, talking to spirits seems interesting, but I don’t need any kind of attachment or something following me home.  Yes, there is a fine line, but there is still a line.  Craig grabbed a K2 Meter and I used a ghost box, and we had 30 minutes only to roam the jail, anywhere we wanted to go.

This place is already incredibly creepy during the day, they have mannequins in the cells in “General Pop” so add the dark, they can scare you when you are clearing a corner.  The Sheriff would have a bedroom here, with an office downstairs.  The room next to his was for his children- what a way to grow up right?  The PARTY OF 10, which is allowed by Covid right now, would be hard to escape to get the “quiet” moments to be able to talk. Half our group wanted to investigate, and the other half were there to party and be loud.  I asked the spirits continually “Doesn’t all that noise bother you?” LOL I did not get a response. BUT… I DID get one in his bedroom. I thought it was a woman’s bedroom, didn’t feel like a mens at all, and asked if anyone wanted to say hello. I got a VERY clear sentence, sounding like an older English woman “Who are you?”  After I changed my pants (jk) I said my name and I talk to them like I would talk to you.

Once I would find quiet spots in Maximum Security, the Women’s part of the jail, and the Watch Tower, they seemed  a bit more chattier.  It was a half hour of trying to record on my phone, hold the ghost box, asking questions, and maneuvering the people who obviously were trying to do the same. 

It was a cool experience, we had the freedom to do it how we pleased, but we wish they had asked the “party crowd” to leave.  If you aren’t really into it, then leave, but don’t ruin it for those who are really interested. After they left, the half of us chatted with Shelby for another 20 minutes about our favorite ghost experiences, other tours we had taken, and so on. She was chocked full of information, so if you can, try to get her for your tour. Below is a great pic of an orb I caught.

Now, was it worth the money? It was $27 each, one of the cheaper ones I have done. Now, you only get 30 minutes to investigate, so that’s about right for what you are paying for. I have been on $50 ones, and higher, so this is a nice one to do with a small group with a small price tag. The Old Schoolhouse was another great ghost tour, but it was over an hour long to investigate.  They have trolley ghost tours which will take you around to the sites, and also there is a ghost tour available at the Lighthouse.  I had thought about the Lighthouse but I thought it would be disorientating to try to investigate on a tiny, spiraling stair case, in the dark, and not worry about the heights of it all. Maybe someday.  I highly encourage you to try one of them out, and make sure too research IF they take you INTO one of the scary sites, or you are just going to be “driving by it.”  Enjoy!!

A Tribute to a Dear Friend

Back in 2009 when I started the blog, I didn’t expect much. I thought I would write a bit, maybe meet some new people, and find a resource or two in helping with the biggest move I had ever done.  Now being 2021, I look back at that almost 12 years later, and I am blessed to have so many of the “OG” friends that I made that first year still in my life today.  And one of the first friends I made was Eric Golden, who had found the blog and we just started up a friendship on Facebook on April 6th, 2010, as these things tend to happen. Wow, just hit me it’s been 11 years.

December 5th, 2011… Eric and family come on their magical vacation. They invite me to hang out with them at Animal Kingdom, and how special, we meet for the first time on Walt Disney’s Birthday! (My Dad’s as well!) We had such a great time. The boys were so little then, and number three wasn’t even in the picture yet! We did the Character Breakfast at Tusker House, and I just remember them doing a parade around the Restaurant and watching him and the family laughing and having so much fun with it.

Disney World announces that they are going to do the FIRST EVER 24 hour Magic Kingdom day, on leap day, February 29th, 2012, from start to stop, you could spend 24 hours inside the Park …. basically a gauntlet had been thrown for us “Seasoned Disney” folks, and of course, I rose to the task! Eric reaches out to me and says “Hey, I am coming for it, I’ll be on my own, do you want to hang out at it?” To which I replied, “Heck yeah” because I was going it solo that 24 too.  We met up at a WDW Radio event, he met my family, for the first time, who came in for a bit to say hi and spend time, and then they left and it was the Midnight to 6 or 7 a.m. that we goofed around and just enjoyed the magic. We were both so exhausted by the time we walked out.

Fast forward, 2017 I decide on my first road trip, birthed out of going to see my family in Wisconsin, and driving up from Florida. He invites me to come over to D.C. and stay at his home, which at first I am nervous about because it was my first time on the road by myself, but secondly, I hadn’t stayed with other families before and I was just hesitant.  Of course, in Eric and Dannelle fashion, they made me feel welcome, and we would go and visit the Bull Run area before he would take me to my first ever D.C. visit.

We parked at his Mom’s home, and she took us to the nearest Metro Station. It was so nice to meet his Mom, and even his sister that evening when they picked us up again.  I rode the Metro for the first time, Eric explaining to me what looked like a Nasa Station of buttons and whistles to choose which ticket and line to ride. And I will never forget us coming out of the tunnel and into D.C. and him watching me freak out at everything I had always seen on tv or in textbooks come to life before my very eyes. We walked from the Navy Memorial to Lincoln and back, our feet we were sure would never be the same. We got back to the Golden household and Dannelle had made us this incredible soup, and he laid down on one couch, me on the other, and we ate the soup with bowls on our chest, barely being able to move.  We laughed so hard at how ridiculous we looked, but it’s a memory we brought up every time after that we were together.

He loved Orange Bird, a Disney Character many don’t know exists, and I did as well. So I brought him one on my second trip to see them in 2018, where we walked D.C. again, this time parking at Arlington and walking to the Capitol, then catching luck with a tour bus driver that he happened to know he took us back to our parking lot.  Our feet thanked him kindly.  That same trip, Eric knows I am a huge scary movie fan, so he took me to the Exorcist stairs in Georgetown where they filmed a scene of the priest falling (pushed?) down this huge flight of stairs.  We reenacted this scene, a long with Orange Bird in it, and we had a blast….laughing the whole time at how ridiculous we looked.  For dinner we hit “Broiler Pizza” which was his FAVORITE pizza place, so he had to share with me. We just sat and ate, laughed, and reminisced about our day. And of course, another Orange Bird pic! (We had made it a game to take his pic all over D.C. and then I continued that my entire 2 months on the road in 2018).

The last time I would see Eric, was back in late November of 2020, the family came to Disney World, which I am so thankful for those memories now…for myself and his family.  We played at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, hitting up the familiar rides and some new ones.  I made sure we had lunch at Cosmic Rays, a favorite of his, and we sat front and center to listen to Sonny Eclipse. He was in Disney heaven! I had been in Rays the day I was informed he was intibated, and it wasn’t happy anymore…. I just started at that table where we were all just laughing and having a good time and trying to wrap my head around how this was happening.  I just sat, cried, prayed, and hoped for the best. Every day, hoping that he would come back from this, and I would be chatting with him again about his next Disney trip and our plans we had made on this road trip coming up.

It would be 2 weeks ago today that I was walking out of Disney Studios, and I had just started to get back into the routines again after my Step-Dad’s heart attack.  Driving out to Texas and back, I was consumed with my own life and problems, and I am sure some will think that is selfish, but I don’t know why since it was my family emergency and it took all my brain power to deal with the crisis at the time.  As life goes, people come in and out all the time. People get busy, life changes every day, so I stopped taking personal people not returning phone calls, emails, and just chalked it up to something is also going on with them- we will connect when the timing is there. And with the lovely algorithms of Social Media, sometimes I don’t see everyone’s updates, statuses, etc. My inner circle, and outer, usually knows to contact me directly if something is urgent, and not to rely on me seeing it on my timeline.

I had a decent day, happy to get to the car and start the journey home when I started getting text messages from Eric.  He explained he had been in the ICU since 3.28 and that’s why he had been so quiet and that he was thinking of me during MY dark storm with Bob. He said he needed to talk to me, so he called and I asked him how he was, what could I do, how his wife and kids were doing, and that I was so sorry he was going through this and dealing with so much pain.  I had shared before on FB that we shared a laugh when I told him that the family was getting vaccinated, and he said “Why is your family evacuating?”  Yeah, the phone connection wasn’t the best, and after I repeated what I said, we both were laughing because he said “Why would your family need to evacuate?” But I was hearing “vaccinate” and you can assume my confusion since he was in there for Covid. He had just gotten off a CPAP machine, and said he was feeling a little better and that he just wanted to reach out while he could.  What hurts the most is that a nurse came in and he had to go abruptly, so I just remember saying “Im praying for you Eric, get better soon, let’s talk again when you can.” And he said goodbye and I went on with my day, lifting up in prayer. Less than 24 hours later they intibated him.  Eric was to be vaxxed 2 days after he went into the ICU.

For the last two weeks, I have checked that man’s FB page morning, noon, and night. Any update, any hope that was interlaced I was holding onto.  I couldn’t imagine what his wife was going through, his kids, his outer family and friends….and I held onto the light he would be ok.

Fast forward to yesterday, Craig and I had taken a weekend away to enjoy St. Augustine and then Space Coast, having fun hanging out and playing with my GoPro.   I kept checking Eric’s page, over and over again. No news was good news right?  And then it was the end of the day, and I had pulled my phone out to take a pic of a shirt that I liked the saying on, and a dear friend sent her condolences about Eric to me. And I just stopped. Everything stopped. I turned to look for Craig who was buying shirts for our girls, and I just walked up to him and said “Eric died.” We just stood in this NASA gift shop silent, the irony finding out here since Eric first took me to see the Shuttle at the Air and Space Smithsonian near his home.  You all know that moment….the silence of stopping.  There is a million sounds, but all you can hear is your heart beat growing louder, the tears swelling up, the mood shifting in your brain and almost the feeling of getting sick.  We bought our stuff, left, and drove home. Not enough tears in the World.

This isn’t a “pity me” post or a “sympathy” it is simply a life account of how I met this beautiful man and how our story began and ended. It’s still not real, and I am still trying to wrap my head around this, wide awake at 3 a.m. with it all screaming at me in my head. I can still see him and I laughing about the 3 our long Gettysburg CD tour we took with the whole family in the van and how is youngest just kept singing over and over again “Remember Me” from Disney’s “Coco” movie.  Incredibly fitting song now. And as Illuminations would say it “We go on”… a World without that loveable and silly guy, but a legend he leaves of love, compassion, kindness, and friendship.  He was like a brother to me, and I will always be grateful for the role he played in my life, and I sincerely hope I played a good one in his.  Please keep his wife and three boys in your thoughts and prayers, I cannot imagine the pain they are dealing with and they can use as much as you can send their way.

Until we meet again Eric…. May you be drumming with the angels, hugging on Jesus, and I just imagine you trying to find Walt so you can talk his ear off about everything you loved about Disney.  Goodnight my sweet friend.

How the Planning is Going- 4.15.2021

At the beginning of this year, I had decided to hang a large map of the U.S. in my office so that I could stare at it every day, reminding me of what was to come.  So that even just by glancing at it, I could make mental notes here and there of what needs to get done.  I joined several Facebook travel groups in hopes to make new friends, but more importantly, to also hear about others travel experiences.  I have screen shot so many things I want to see, that I have to take just a day to go through each one and write them down in my travel notebook.  I don’t mind keeping notes on my laptop, but there’s just something about pen and paper that makes me feel more in control. 

I have begun to buy tickets to events, and THAT is exciting to me! I have been waiting to see how everything was going to play out, and would I even be ABLE to travel because of the state of things, but it looks like I will be able too with a mask on for now. I thought planning this for the summer of 2021 was pushing it out far enough, but as we all know, it just keeps cycling right now, so I am going ahead with extreme caution.  Like last summer, I will follow the protocol I gave myself of always washing hands and sanitizing after touching everything and anything outside my space. Masking up, keeping safe distance, I hope I will be ok. ALSO getting vaccinated tomorrow, VERY happy about that!

So what am I buying tickets too? Well, I have some really odd, amazing, and fun likes in, and of, life!  I bought tickets to a Puppet Museum to see the largest display of Sesame Street items, and then booked a Paranormal tour at Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky.   I am going to go and check out the life-size “Noah’s Ark” also, and probably hit up the Kentucky Derby area too.  I LOVE me some nature so any State and National Parks I have time for, I will try and see. This summer, a heads up, SEVERAL National Parks are asking you RESERVE your day for when you are coming to see them. Also, you will need your National Parks pass AND they are charging at some an additional fee to come into the Parks.  Yes, you read that right.  I assume they are watching their numbers, but it is a pain to try and pinpoint when I will be EXACTLY where and not a “go with the flow” on this one.  Basically I will have to reserve a couple days at each to give myself a small window in case of delays. Because I am staying in Yellowstone I assume I don’t need a reservation, but I am still researching this.

By the way, this is basically what I have been doing every day…research.  It’s not only about one city, it’s many. And it’s not just the city then, it’s where to stay. Is it safe, is there food close by, gas, etc… Then how far are the places I want to see from the hotel, are the roads easy to drive or is it all mountains? Things like this I really try to prep for because the “SURPRISE” sometimes isn’t so sweet.  I mean there isn’t much I can do once going “up”, just keep my foot on the pedal and pray! I do A LOT f singing when I am nervous while driving, helps calm me down and get the anxiety out.

Last but not least, I booked my weekend for the opening of the Hot Air Balloon Festival in New Mexico!!!  I rewired some of my plans to make it fit, having to double back a bit on what I was going to be doing, but this has ALWAYS been on my bucket list. So I found a hotel a couple miles from the Festival, and booked the entire weekend in case one day has bad weather.  I am going to try for the VIP tickets when they come out because you can go to a private patio and watch them with food and drinks. Sounds like a fun way to meet people and enjoy the view, so hopefully I will be able to snag one!

I am trying to stay focused, but life has a way of sneaking up on us as we plan something else.  Bob is COMING HOME today and so I am SO happy for my Mom who is relieved and just SOUNDS so much better. They hope to head back to Green Bay in the next coming weeks, and I will be up there in June to see them again. And with life it’s one big rollercoaster ride, and as I got news Bob is out of the woods, I still have a dear friend deep in them.  So I am praying and thinking about Eric all week, and so touched that he called me on Monday to connect on what was happening with him. In fact we did have a laugh, I told him that I was having the whole family vaccinated this Friday, and he said “Why, why would you do that?” I said, “So we don’t get it.” And he started to laugh and said “Oh, wait, I thought you said you and the family were being EVACUATED” and we both laughed.  Small things, big moments. I pray he’s ok, they intubated him less than 24 hours after that call… and now we wait. Please keep him and the family in your thoughts and prayers.

So that’s been my week thus far, I keep moving forward, keep stepping out of that comfort zone, and keep hoping that life gets back to a normal we can all agree on, soon.

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

SOOOOOO excited to share this FINALLY!! After months of creating, planning, prepping, and trying to schedule out the best time to drop this, today just feels like a good day to do it.  So, why not? I have been encouraged to make my own merch for years now and I just didn’t “take” to it because I guess I didn’t think anyone be interested. BUT then ideas started to come, and I thought, let’s start with pins and see how they go.  I have a LIMITED amount to kick this off, and will order more if people love them. God, I hope you at least LIKE them LOL. 

I have designed FOUR acrylic pins, along with my Design Team, and came up with the first four that truly represent my brand, my mission, and just me.   Pin cards included and designed to fit the pin- I may love them even more!!

For those who have been with me since 2009, the original logo designed by my oldest daughter, Kyra, is the luggage pin.

Second pin is the current logo, the white baseball cap that I will be wearing most of next year, and have been wearing this past year.

Third pin is a nod to my 80s, and Gen X roots, THE MIXED TAPE!!!  It says “Road Trip Playlist” on it with my logo VERY small on it as well.  The pin card for this makes me soooo happy!!

Fourth, and final pin, goes a long with my mission…. Spreading Kindness. I will be selling this batch and then ordering a bunch more for the road. These are GREAT for spreading the word, and of course, KINDNESS! Because good golly, this World needs more!!! 

Pins cost just $5 each and $5 to ship. If you buy more than one, I will combine shipping. DOMESTIC ONLY please. ZELLE only unless you contact me for a different payment option. Email me at relocatedtourist@yahoo.com with your order, LIMITED TIME AND AMOUNT, so let me know ASAP! PLEASE Do not pay until I confirm your order. I hope you love them as much as I have enjoyed creating them!

Hitting Life’s Reset Button

I think it was a Staple’s commercial where there was a big, red button you could press to reset something, and I always thought “Wow, how handy that would be.” How many times we all find ourselves going down one path, nothing seemingly wrong, and then BAM, you are turned, twisted, and left on something you don’t even recognize. That’s how I equate the last several weeks of my life, and it’s taking me a bit to travel back to my original road. Patience, not my strong point, hope it’s yours.

I am coming to the 7 week countdown soon here and I am SOOOOOO not prepared yet.  If anything of my impromptu trip to Texas taught me is that I have so much to get ready for and so much that I cannot possibly plan, but just let happen.  A quick update on Bob- he is doing well and he going into a Rehab center for a short period of time to just help move recovery a long a bit quicker.  Mom is well and enjoying the space and quiet between me leaving and him coming home- it will be a lot for her to deal with so I told her to rest up and to enjoy the peace for a little while before the harder stuff comes down the pipeline. They will have a nurse come by the home as well, if needed, and I made sure to set them up with as much as possible before I left.  We all watch our parents get older, as we get older ourselves, and it’s an interesting chapter to say the least. It’s hard, it’s just hard. Let’s hold onto them as long as we can.

So after two days of driving there, and two days of driving back, I did come across some firsts. I now know that I CAN conquer bridges from a traveler’s nightmare….I 10 has TWO GIGANTIC bridges that when you come around a corner and see them, you have no choice but to go up.  I literally prayed and sang all the way up one, trying to distract my brain from the “flight or fight” method because this sucker was STEEP!  You know the kind that you are almost positive that you are never going to stop going up, and that you wonder what fresh hell is waiting there once you get to the top?  OH and then one had traffic so thick that we all were braking on the way up- nothing like feeling like I could fall backwards at ANY point.  Yes, I will be avoiding these on my road trip, thanks waiter, check please!

I got to visit my first “Buccees” which is a gas station on crack of any of you wondering. It’s like if Target and Wawa had a baby, and then Kwik Trip, 7/11 and so on came to party as well, making this giant Beaver baby that is Buccees. To tell you how large this place was, my gas pump was #222. Seriously. They have them lining one whole side of the building, in layers!!  So the one in TX was smaller I guess, and it was manageable. I went in, checked it out, grabbed a chicken sandwich and a soda, and headed out. The one on the Alabama, FL Panhandle State line was something out of nightmares.  It was ike a Black Friday sale met the busiest Disney day you can think of- I didn’t know if I could or should enjoy looking around with so many people shoved into one building.  Half with masks, half without (even though CLEARLY marked that you must wear one inside).  Grabbed a sandwich, a drink, some hot sauce for Kyra, and bolted.  Not today Satan, not today.

If anything, it was a good dry run on driving long periods of time again. Honestly, this is what I will be trying to avoid on the trip. I want to only drive a couple hours in between destinations so that I may enjoy the excitement of that day and not get bogged down with all the driving.  It’s odd how driving makes us so tired when we are literally just sitting with our foot on the gas, but I guess the inactivity is what does it.  Day two this time I wound up driving for 15 hours due to Easter weekend traffic being horrific on the way into Florida on 75. Pretty sure I was delirious by the time I walked into the house- but oh so grateful to make it home safe and be with my family for Easter.

In an odd way, these reset moments help me process and cooperate with life’s messes a bit better each and every time they come along. It’s in the learning of how to cope with my emotions, how to spring into action when someone needs me, and more importantly, sidelining my life for a small sliver of time so that my heart and head are available to help someone else.  It brought me much joy to hug my Mom, be there for her before and after, but more importantly, to SHOW her “You matter, I am here. You are not alone.”  May we ALL have persons who will drop everything and show up for us, and may we all be that to someone in our lives.  You may never know the impact your life may have on someone, but let’s try to make it a positive one. Perfection? Heck no. Kindness, compassion, empathy, being present? Hell yes. So as I hit the reset button, again, I wish you all a go on yours, may it be a fruitful and positive one!