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!!