Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

 We arrived in Skagway for our final stop in Alaska and planned to take a bus out to the Yukon.  Then we were taking the train back to Skagway…yes, the famous White Pass Railway.  We were so excited to see the train as we rode on the bus out of town.

White Pass Railway

As we left Skagway, we were shown an old-time style “billboard”.  Advertising used to be painted on the rock side of the hill.

Old-time billboard






Our first stop on the bus tour was to see an unusual suspension bridge that spanned a massively deep crevise. 

Then we traveled through the Alaska wilderness that was the death of some of the gold rushers.  Desolation Valley fascinated me.  Dark, stark and unforgiving…and lots of snow in early June.  Brr-rrr-rrr-rrrr. 







And the Inukshuk (the rock-man) showed us that there was safe passage the way we were traveling! 



Bear food…bears evidently LOVE dandelions.



We saw a grizzly bear (looking for dandelions).

             and then we saw a black bear!

Another black bear was spotted on our train-ride back, but he was faster hiding behind bushes and I didn’t get to snap his picture.

The train we were riding as the engines crossed a wooden tressle. Very rustic!


This was the end of the rapids in the river that runs alongside the Klondike Highway.  I’m glad I was in the nice, warm (and dry) train looking out at this beautiful sight.

We headed back to the ship (late) and began our trip back to the mainland US (with a detour to Victoria, British Columbia as our final excursion stop).  Alaska left me with the realization that there IS wilderness still out there.  After living in a major US city for so long, it was nice to get away and see wildlife and stunning views that just didn’t translate completely to photographs.  During the gold rush, the men and women who trekked through the landscape we saw from a warm bus and warm train must have been made of sterner stuff than I.


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As I’ve made quite clear in the name and description of my blog, I travel.  As much as possible.  And, although I’ve been many places in my life so far, there are far more interesting places yet to visit.  My list seems to be growing, not shrinking.  And as I see the end of my life getting closer each day (not that I expect it will happen for years, but you never know), I find that I am starting to face my mortality.  I am beginning to realize that I may never get to see all the interesting places I’d like to visit.  So, now I find myself starting to prioritize.  And I am getting more insistent that every single vacation must be somewhere significant.  I don’t have time to waste in visiting the same places over and over, just because I happened to like them. 

The more I find myself prioritizing, though, the longer the list becomes.  Because each time I look at where I want to go next, I think of another place that I just MUST see before…well, you know.  I’m extremely excited that in the next few months, I’ll be checking off a major destination from the list.  I’m going to Alaska!  I’m so happy that my dear, sweet hubby has let me talk him into the Alaska cruise.  I know…I won’t be in Alaska long, but I will have had a small taste of the experience.  And, like my father, I will find myself off the coast of Alaska on a ship.  But unlike my father, Alaska is a state when I will be off the coast.  My father was on a ship off the coast about a year before Alaska became a state. 

I have always wondered what that must have been like for him.  It couldn’t have been as exciting as it will be for me.  He was on a military ship.  I, on the other hand, will be enjoying the luxury of a cruise ship, entertainment, good food, and my family (translated: hubby) with me. 

My father was from a small town in southern California and had been in the military a couple of years or so when he was off the coast of Alaska.  It must have been a little different for him.  I grew up moving and traveling.  He didn’t.  But if it hadn’t been for the adventurous spirit of my father, willing to join the military, I would not have been born.  He met my mother in England when he was stationed there.  I’m very thankful he went to church that Sunday morning so many years ago in a strange city.  After getting married, they moved to France and along came me!

My first trip to another country was when I was two months old and my parents took me back to the church where they met and were married to be christened.  And I’ve been traveling ever since.  About 9 years ago, my hubby and I took a trip to England and visited that church, along with other amazing places all over England.  I’ve been fortunate to spend time in Europe, the USSR, the US, Mexico, Latin America, South America, and Canada.  And, someday, I hope to expand my travels to other areas of the world.  Because, although I’ve been so many places in my life and time, I still have so much to see.  And I thank my father for giving me this traveling bug.  If it hadn’t been for him…well, you know.


“Traveling is not just seeing the new; it is also leaving behind. Not just opening doors; also closing them behind you, never to return. But the place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut your eyes.” ~ Jan Myrdal

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I just got back home earlier this week from a quick trip home to Kansas.  I do consider Kansas my home state.  Although my father was in the military for my entire childhood, he was stationed in Kansas longer than anywhere else.  And I graduated from high school there, headed off to college and even my first job as an adult was in Kansas.  In fact, I lived there for over 25 years.  So, I consider it home, even though I left there over 14 years ago. 

It was such a good feeling to cross that state line into Kansas and drive through Wichita, on through the Flint Hills and up the highway all the way to Kansas City.  Yep, Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come…that’s what I was humming as I drove down the highway.  I could feel myself relax as all those familiar places flashed past my car windows.  I stopped off in Matfield Green to see the Knute Rockne memorial, in Emporia to see Soden’s Grove, in Olpe to see the Olpe Chicken House, and in Leavenworth, I saw the federal prison, the front gate to Fort Leavenworth and the Missouri River.  

Kansas may not be that huge tourist destination, but folks don’t know what they’re missing.  People in Kansas are warm and friendly, helpful, open and welcoming.  And it’s kind of like stepping back a bit in time when you stop to see the beautifully old-fashioned town squares in the small towns that line highway 40 or highway 50.  Nothing is as much fun as hanging out with friends at the local high school football or basketball game and then heading over to the mom & pop hamburger place and visiting with everyone some more. 

This trip, I went back to my college homecoming and met up with friends from my college days that I hadn’t seen in about 30 years.  It was so much fun!  How do so many people not age???  They looked like they did in college and I would have recognized most of them anywhere.  And now, I’m looking forward to next year.  They say you can never go home again…well, I don’t know who “they” are, but they are WRONG!  You can go home again.  I did.  And it was wonderful.

 “You can’t appreciate home till you’ve left it, money till it’s spent, your wife till she’s joined a woman’s club, nor Old Glory till you see it hanging on a broomstick on the shanty of a consul in a foreign town.” ~ O. Henry Porter

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This morning, my hubby and I went bowling. There really is a reason. The division I work in at the university is having a jamboree (staff end-of-the-year event) this week and it is at the local bowling alley. I haven’t bowled in 34 YEARS! Yes, that’s right.     34 YEARS!     I know there are people I work with who were born AFTER the last time I bowled. Needless to say, some of them bowl on a regular basis.

Don’t get me wrong. I used to love to bowl. And then I got tired of it or just didn’t make the time anymore. I can hardly remember. After all, it was 34…okay, enough. Anyway, I used to be good.  Pretty darn good, in fact.  I competed at the state level and placed seventh, if I remember correctly, in doubles and 11th in singles. 

So, off I went to the bowling alley this morning, with the knowledge that I am now incredibly old to be learning how to bowl (again) and with my hubby in tow.  At least the place we went was far from the house, eliminating odds of running into neighbors.  But, it was close to work.  So, I worried (needlessly, fortunately).  We had socks ready (since we were renting those LOVELY shoes that are available for the novices or non-regular bowlers).  And we had checked…it is only 99 cents per person per game on Sundays before noon.  Yes, we didn’t go to church.  We went bowling. 

Well, it started out rough.  We didn’t know where to go once we entered.  The place was mammoth!  And when we did find the desk, I blurted out, “I haven’t bowled in 34 YEARS!”  So, too late.  I have now embarrassed myself.  But I was wanting to make sure he knew up front, we didn’t know what we were doing and we were going to have stupid questions.  I had to give him my driver’s license.  HUH??  I guess that’s so you don’t leave without paying.  Boy, has the world changed in the last 34 years.  😀  Okay, I’ll stop bringing that up.  Then, he asked what size shoes.  Well, I live in south Texas.  I hardly wear shoes that cover my entire foot anymore, so I just had to guess.  And were those shoes lovely!?!  NO!  Mine were three colors and one of the shoes had a chunk of leather (?) missing on the area where it wraps below your ankle.  It looked like it had been chewed on by a rat.  But, they were broken in (really broken in) and were actually comfy.  Well, off to lane 3.  But first, put on the shoes and find a bowling ball.  Strangely, hubby and I are both left-handed.  I was worried.  But I guess they make the bowling balls generic now.  Who knew?  Back (XX years ago) in the day, there were left- and right-handed bowling balls.  So, we found bowling balls (and amazingly, they are all different colors now, too).  I had a bright pink one and hubby’s was orange–I didn’t see a black bowling ball in the entire place.  Then we sat at what looked like the Enterprise’s (reference to Star Trek) control panel and realized we had no idea what we were doing.  The guy on the next lane was nice enough to show us how to work it.  I was used to paper and pencil and keeping tabs on the score myself. 

I have now thoroughly embarrassed myself without even throwing the first ball.  But things definitely were not as bad as I expected.  My first game was a not horribly embarrassing 77.  Could have been a lot better, but could have been a lot worse.  And my second game was 130…I broke 100!!!  I’m feeling a little better about going on Wednesday to the jamboree.  I did my pre-jamboree, bowling reconnaissance and embarrassment-proofing.  Now, let’s hope I can repeat at least one of those game scores, so I’m not cringing as the bowling ball bounces across lanes (I’ve done that before) or flying behind me (again, done that) or bouncing off my foot (haven’t done that, but it’s a fear).  So, wish me luck and keep me in your thoughts on Wednesday evening as I head off to the lanes and the camaraderie of my co-workers.

“There’s a blush for won’t, and a blush for shan’t, and a blush for having done it: There’s a blush for thought and a blush for naught, and a blush for just begun it.” ~ John Keats

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I feel like I’ve had such a creative day!  I was looking for something to do this weekend that didn’t involve being outdoors.  South Texas is experiencing a record-breaking number of 100-plus degree days this year and I can’t stand the heat!  So, I decided to look for something fun to do indoors away from home.  I’ve been cooped up too long in the job search (except for the occasional foray out for an interview or for networking sessions) and I came across a website for a business that sounded interesting.  Have you ever heard of a pottery painting place before?  I guess I must be living in a bubble, but I thought this sounded intriguing.  The deal is, you go in, pick out the piece of pottery you want to paint, they supply the brushes, the paint, etc. and you paint away.  There is a basic fee for using their supplies and then you pay for the piece of pottery you choose to paint.  And when you’re finished painting, you leave the mess for them to clean up, you leave your pottery and they will fire it, and you go home…a little poorer, but a lot happier!  I had such a good time (my dear hubby didn’t enjoy it, but he said he had fun watching me having fun–isn’t he sweet), that I want to get some of my friends together for a Pottery Painting Party.  Who wouldn’t love to have wine, appetizers and a private room to party and paint?? 

So, when we got there, I decided to paint a teapot.  I love to drink tea, so what better to paint than my very own teapot.  And Beau decided to paint the smallest item he could find…a ring holder for me.  I thought he’d pick something that could be used in his new office.  Nope.  I think he was afraid it would look like the soap dish he made in grade school.  Anyway, back to the teapot.  Well, I am a transplant from Kansas and really do miss it.  And I’m also a huge fan of the color yellow.  So, I decided to paint sunflowers on my teapot.  I started out sketching a large sunflower on each side and then I put a sunflower on the lid and one on the spout.  Then I put two very small ones on the handle.  I used a small sponge to dab light blue paint all over as a background.  I think it will be pretty nice once it has been glazed and fired.  I hope.  If it turns out okay, I’ll be adding a photo to this post.  If not, well, you’ll never see it.  Now I have the urge to be creative again soon.  I just have to decide what to do next on a miserably hot weekend in San Antonio. 

“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” ~ Edwin H. Land

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Luckenbach Texas post office

Sunday…what to do??? Let’s take a drive!  Beau and I headed north on 281 out of San Antonio and enjoyed the drive through part of the hill country. The sky was a beautiful blue, the recent rains (floods) had left the trees green and the humidity high, so the windows were up and the air conditioning was cranked. But the view was great. We stopped in Johnson City (yes, that town right next to LBJ’s ranch and home of Lyndon Bain Johnson himself) for lunch at a little place that had caught my eye last time we were through there. It never fails to amuse me when a small Mom & Pop place has a funny sign. This one was advertising their chicken fried steaks (Almost 3 Dozen Sold). I had to laugh. Let’s just be self-deprecating and poke fun at Mickey D’s all in one statement.

The chicken fried steak was pretty good! Not greasy and the breading was very light and crunchy. Just outside the restaurant was a fruit and veggie stand, so I stopped and picked up some zucchini squash. Then we hit the road again, headed toward Fredericksburg, a quaint little town with a German history and some great shops, along with the museum for the U.S.S. Nimitz (Nimitz himself was from Fredericksburg). The museum has recently been renamed the National Museum of the Pacific War. We stopped at a little shop outside Fredericksburg to pick up a wine rack I had purchased when shopping with a friend yesterday (yes, that was two road trips in two days for me) and then decided to head away from Fredericksburg and toward one of my favorite little pitstops…Luckenbach, Texas, of Waylon, Willie and the Boys fame. Luckenbach is a small post office/gift shop/bar, a dance hall, a snack shack, an outdoor music venue and small camp ground. We stopped in the post office/gift shop/bar combo and mailed a letter to my mother (they postmarked it from Luckenbach) and then I picked up a bottle of wine from them with the Luckenbach label. Then we headed to one of my favorite wineries (Sister Creek) and picked up two bottles of their EXCELLENT muscat canelli reserve (you can only buy that particular one at the winery). I usually buy their regular muscat canelli here in San Antonio, but prefer the reserve. Then we cruised on down the road, cut through little Boerne, one of my favorite haunts for weekend shopping with the girls, and back into San Antonio. About 150 miles of road trip on a nice, sunny Sunday afternoon. I do feel refreshed and relaxed!

“To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” ~ Jane Austen

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What more could a person ask for than a relaxing, fun-filled weekend with two great friends and gorgeous weather to make the setting spectacular??? I can’t think of anything (except a wonderful weekend with Beau instead). Since Beau was traveling for work, this was a great way to spend my time. My friend BJ and I met early Saturday morning and loaded up the car for our road trip. First, though, we made a detour to Gruene, Texas, for Market Days. After browsing the stalls and sipping hot tea while we wandered, we stopped for lunch at the Gristmill, a restaurant in a historic old mill that hangs over the Guadelupe River. We sat on one of the terraces overlooking the water. It was a beautiful day and we had their award-winning chicken tortilla soup and we each had a dinner salad with their awesome creamy balsamic dressing. Yummmmmmmmm! It was great! Then we hit the road…over 3 hours to Houston to visit our friend Jennifer. We arrived and got great directions to her apartment. It was so cute! She and her dog Maverick greated us and we unloaded the entire car into her place. Then we sat around, drinking wine, while Jennifer finished putting together some Cuban sandwiches for our picnic. Then we loaded everything up and headed for the park. We found a good parking spot and walked to the amphitheater to watch the opera. Great food, great wine, great friends and a glorious night weatherwise added to the fun of seeing Hansel and Gretel. The sets were amazing and the puppets (the guardian angels, birds and cat) were done by the Jim Hensen Puppet Company. Wow! The witch was frighteningly talented and intriguing and scary.

After the opera was over, we went back to Jennifer’s apartment and drank some more wine and talked and talked. Then we headed to bed. I got the futon in the living room and BJ had the aero bed. Neither of us had the dog. 🙂 Jennifer kept him to herself in her room. So, the next morning we woke up, showered, ate Jennifer’s “from scratch” cinnamon rolls and then went shopping. I got two pairs of shoes and a Ralph Lauren silk blend sweater for under $75! Love that Dillard’s clearance center. After that, we went to Central Market (it’s a tradition for us on Girls’ Weekend. Central Market, for those not familiar with it, is a gourmet grocery store and many of them have a wonderful indoor/outdoor cafe with live music on the weekends. It’s a great relaxing way to shop, snack your way around the store (samples) and look for interesting things you can’t find other places. Then we had lunch at a local Cajun restaurant. After that, we went back to Jennifer’s apartment and loaded the car and headed home. We got back to San Antonio around 7pm and went our separate ways. But we have great memories of the time we spent with good friends!

“It’s the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter.” ~ Marlene Dietrich

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