Aug 14, 2017

The More Things Change.....? An Interview with Bob Lowry

Back ever so many years ago Bob Lowry posted an interview with me called Being a Snowbird: Is It The Right Choice For You? The questions were all related to our snowbird lifestyle. That was when I discovered that being a snowbird is a total mystery to so many people and that surprised me. Even today almost 5 years later, I have people wondering about how they can do it and asking very good questions. Because we did not research "snowbird lifestyle" before we fell into it, I am amazed that people have so much foresight.

Yes, we did decide to travel down this road!

I remember meeting people that lived in Mexico on Lake Chapala back in the mid 1990's. At the time I had know idea that people actually left their home and went someplace totally different for all of the winter. This was back in the day before the internet and the idea that people retired to live yet another life after retirement. The concept was so foreign. I was around 50 years old.

As my husband and I approached retirement we began to think about getting out into the world a little more. We were actually going to go on a vacation! Wow.

My husband wanted a small trailer to go in so we could hunt and fish in eastern Oregon. Our dreams were not big. Our children were just grown and we had no idea what they would do. We were very happy in our own little world.

Then we began to golf and we traveled a little to golf tournaments around our home town. It was there that we began to meet "snowbirds". I remember leaning back in my chair at the diner table and wrapping my mind around leaving my house and family to travel or weeks or months. The person across the table was doing that very thing. It seemed impossible.

That same year we were in a motel at a tournament. There was no coffee pot, no breakfast and no comfortable bed or pillow. I raised my head one morning and said to my husband that I wanted a little trailer with my own stuff. I wanted my coffee in bed. It was a dream of sorts.

His eyes popped open and I could see the wheels was what he had been wanting and he was just waiting for me to come up with HIS idea. Before long we owned a fifth wheel and a new pickup. Shortly thereafter we retired. I am still a little stunned to think that we flipped from what was normal to us to something so foreign in such a little time. I guess the timing was just right. We could hunt and fish and stay in our state's campgrounds...and I could have my coffee in bed! Life was good.

The idea of leaving for an extended time began to seem more and more appealing. It was the beginning of the cell phone age. We could stay in touch all of the time.  My mother was in a nursing home near-by and we had very young grandchildren. The cell phone actually opened doors of possibilities for us.

We decided one day to travel across country. I think that was when we had traded the fifth wheel for a little Class C RV. We drove from Portland to Florida and back again in a little over 6 weeks. I was so anxious to get home after that trip I don't even think we stopped. We must have but I don't remember. It seemed like an eternity but WE DID IT! That was a big step in moving from a very small life to a life of travel.

But we did not arrive at the big moments for many years. Life is a lot more like eating an bite at a time. We did not swallow the whole thing. First we went to California for a few weeks. Then Tuscon and into Mexico. The we went to Texas, Palm Springs and finally we settled in Tucson AZ. Our son lives overseas so he invited us to come see him. The game was on and we were eat that elephant in bigger chunks all of the time. In the end, we have become fearless...almost. But we have arrived here after many years of learning and watching. That is our style!

Yes, we did learn a lot. Sometimes we learned the hard way, sometimes we by actually talked to people that knew what they were doing. A few things come to mind right away. These were some of our "Holy Cow" moments:

  1. What do you do if your slide out on your motor home slides out on the freeway?
  2. What do you do if your 5th wheel brakes lock in the parking lot?
  3. How do you deal with RV parks that do not keep their promises?
  4. What if your cat escapes in the resort that does not allow cats?
  5. What do you do if you have become ensnared with another couple and cannot get free?
  6. How do you get your mail on the road?
  7. How quiet do you need to be in your motorhome when there is no space and no privacy?
Fortunately we never broke down or were in a wreck. We have only lost all of our luggage once and we have never gotten sick while traveling. But, we are prepared and we are flexible! If things go wrong, and they will, we just hunker down and move forward.

That is what is important.

At the top of the sidebar on this blog you see a quote asking if you are living life by design or by default. If I were to answer that question about my husband and myself, I would have to say that we live right in the middle of those two. We travel the road of life, stop a each intersection and decide what to do. We do not plan for what we do not see. Does that make sense. 

While life presents a lot of surprises and we are forced to make choices by default, I suppose the overriding design for us is to make a change when the time feels right. Then we just go out and find a way to continue the adventure.

Please go over to Lowry's blog and read Being a Snowbird: Is It the Right Choice for You?  Even though the post is several years old, not much has changed. You will find a wealth of information. 

Have a wonderful day...may the adventure live on!

What is your dream?


Aug 12, 2017

When A Picture replaces a 1000 Words!

Summers are all about family, baseball, grandchildren and so much more. Ours has been so full that I think I need to post it in installments. 

My husband and I laugh a lot. If I could remember
where this was taken we would go back!

Baseball has been so much fun this year.
We have a local team that has turned out to
be winners. Wowza!

When coloring turns into a race
but they are competitive or anything!
My beautiful greatgranddaughter!
Sweet Embrey

My husband HAD to build a was 97 degrees outside.
My family went whitewater rafting. I am
on shore with the giant dog.
Dog sitting for the granddog is
part of the summer fun. This
little block of a dog is so much fun!

Getting the picture is hard
when the picturees are
not cooperating.
It's all about the hats!
What the heck?

Then, when it is all done, we call in the street
sweepers to clean up.

 I hope you summer is going perfectly. If you have a post about summer, leave a link in comments!


Aug 11, 2017

Book: The Crow Trap by Anne Cleeve...I wouldn't change a word!

I have been on a reading binge this summer and I am beginning to see myself as quite the expert on what is good and what is bad. That is not a good thing but it is a true thing.

I just finished reading The Crow Trap by Anne Cleeve. It is the first of the Vera Stanhope series that Cleeve wrote. It was first published back in 1999. She is a master storyteller and has such a unique way of writing a mystery that is centered around one character. It took me a while to catch what she was doing.

In this novel and in the Shetland Island book, Dead Water I read earlier in the summer, the main character came it more than halfway through book. Cleeves set the stage, leaving smoking guns all over the place and then gave you the detective almost unwillingly. It made me think and wonder about what she was up to...but in the end it made the book just perfect.

Vera has since become a popular ITV series seen here in the United States on PBS. The Crow Trap is the third episode in the ITV series but the first in the series of Vera Stanhope books. When I began watching those ITV shows, I had no idea the the books could be even better than the tv series. That may be the reason I began watching shows streaming from my computer. Netflix, Amazon Prime and now Acorn are my go to tv viewing entertainment.

The writers of the tv script, unlike me, felt free to change almost all the words. Watching the show would not have ruined the book for me and the book did not ruin the show when I watched it the second time. I liked them both.

If you are a mystery lover and demand perfect words, these books might be for you.

They are available on Amazon. If you go to your local Amazon store or go online and have a prime membership, you will get The Crow Trap for $11.55. The price on the back of the book is $16.99.

The Prime Membership just makes more and more sense to me all the time.

What are you reading this summer?


Aug 6, 2017

15 HINTS TO MAKE TRAVEL SAFE AROUND THE WORLD or The gypsy baby stole what?

Notes about travel: I know it is a lot but take your time, think it through and see if any of this information may be of some help.You really shouldn't be paranoid. Bad stuff can and will happen. Being informed makes life a lot easier.

2003 Plaza Major in Madrid.
Purse was stole within minutes 
after this was taken.
Were we talking about travel? I can't remember but I do know it has been on my mind recently. I was looking at one of my favorite websites published by midlife women on Midlife Boulevard. The travel section caught my eye. Traveling vicariously is almost as much fun as really going.

Susan Fluhr wrote a story about her trip to Masada in Israel and the photos were beautiful. The best travel articles, I think, are those that bring back wonderful memories of vacations past. We visited Jordan last December. Israel is on the west side of the Dead Sea, Jordon on the East. The wheels began turning.

Then I received an email from a cyber security company concerning traveling safely. The timing was perfect.

The mention of safety and risks in travel struck a chord with me because most of the places we have visited in recent years have not been what most people would consider "safe". I cannot tell you how many times friends have told my husband and I that they would never go to the places we like to go.

Where have you traveled?
We have been to China, Vietnam, the Philippines, the Middle East (Dubai and Jordan). Most people find that just plain crazy especially since we do not travel with a tour group. Even Mexico is frightening to most of those people that do not travel without fear. Yet the worst things that have happened to us was in Spain where a Romani (Gypsy) woman carrying a baby stole my wallet.

Could I ever change any one's mind about travel safety? Probably not. So for those adventurous people new to this world of travel, I have a few thing that might be of interest.
2003 The storm on the Mediterranean the day before the war in Iraq began.

Demonstrations in the street of Malaga in 2003 right before the war in Iraq

Look closely at the armament attach to the truck under the camouflage. This was a check point along the Dead Sea.
Our Jordanian taxi drivers took us from Amman to Petra by the scenic route.
The Dead Sea is very large yet no boats are ever allowed on it according some agreement between Jordan and Israel. No one could ever be safe if it were allowed.
(from Marriott Hotel room balcony)

The Middle East
Staying safe in places like Jordan is a little iffy. Our government did not recommend travel there when we went. Jordan is at war. I am not sure that even they know who the enemy is but their security is very tight. When they talked about "the war" we were not sure which one they had in mind. We hired local taxi drivers recommended by Lonely Planet Guide. Those drivers were associated with the US Embassy so we felt relatively safe.

We traveled with our son, his wife and our two granddaughters. We payed attention to where we were and who was around. Hotels practiced the same security but even tighter than our western airports. Wandering into a busy market place in a bad neighborhood would make me nervous. But visiting with a local merchant would not. We would walk any place that was close enough. The truth is we have an attitude that being safe anywhere is not possible!

Note: If you have been in Israel you cannot go into Muslim countries as a rule. I am told that Israel does not stamp the passport itself. The reverse is also true. I don't know if Dubai, for example, would do the same thing.

Communist Countries
I know this is not what people believe but most countries that do not allow a lot of freedom are much safer than those that are liberal. A communist country is a prime example.

We flew from Shanghai to Hanoi, Vietnam and then traveled north on a night train to a community at the base of the mountains. From there we took a private van to Sapa. Sapa sits in the Hoàng Liên Son Mts. and is about 15 kilometers from the China border. It is a "trekkers" paradise. The Viet, H'Mong and Chinese mingle but not with ease. There is a lot of distrust.

But visitors from Europe/America are welcomed with open arms everywhere we visited in Vietnam. They liked our money. We never felt fearful at all...ever!

We stood on the parade grounds where the communist party would hold rallies in Sapa.

In Hanoi we slept in a hotel in the very old part of town. We were woken in the morning by the loud speakers announcing the activities or news for the day at 7 AM. It was time for that country to get to work.

In Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) we saw bunkers remains at the airport and went past the museum the communist had erected to commemorate the fall of Saigon. We saw prison camps as we traveled south to a port on Pho Quoc Island.

We flew from Saigon over the Mekong Delta to the island where we stayed in a resort. That was where we took a boat to see the people living on boats/fish farms. We were never afraid of anything but food poisoning and crossing the street! We were in fact safer there than we would have been in Tucson AZ.

Sapa, Vietnam...A famous vendor in the market. 
14 Safety Hints
Having said all this, you need to know that we are careful, very, very careful. These are the precautions we take because we do not want to travel with a tour. We see and experience a lot more on our own.

  1. Let your financial institutions and credit card companies know you will be traveling.
  2. Keep your passport in the hotel safe. I cannot say this often enough.
  3. Bring duplicates of all your papers.
  4. Keep original and copies of all travel documents plus valuables like jewelry, computers, even cell phones in a safe. Keep your passport in the safe in your room or at the desk.
  5. Take one credit card with you when you venture out, leave another in the safe. Keep help numbers for those cards in a safe place. If by chance your credit card is stolen, you will find that the card company will stop credit and issue you a new one, even delivering it to your hotel in very short order.
  6. Do not strut your stuff...looking wealthy is not a good idea. You just set yourself up for trouble.
  7. Always be courteous even when you are frustrated. 
  8. Being an ugly American is not a good thing. Remember "When in Rome do as the Romans do."
  9. Use the concierge in your hotel. Carry business cards from the hotel you are staying at. It will be a huge help when it comes to using taxis.
  10. If you can afford it and are not experienced, hire a guide. You will be surprised that it does not cost that much.
  11. Keep meds close at hand. Any chronic illness that might flare up requires a plan. Travel with sunscreen, bug spray, Imodium. Check to see if you need any shots. We have had all those shots many years ago. (A trip to Thailand for example requires some precautions.)
  12. Do not be taken in by con-men. Be wary of people approaching you with help on the street particularly in Thailand and perhaps anywhere in that region. Even in  Mexico or Morocco I recommend that you just not making eye contact. (That is very hard for American in particular.) You will save yourself a lot of grief by simply not acknowledging or simply saying no (or neine in Vietnam might work better).
  13. If you decide to go on an adventure even with a guide, let someone know where you will be and when to expect you back. 
  14. We all know that the Romani (Gypsy people) in Europe will steal anything that is not taped or nailed down. Just avoid them and keep your purse/wallet close. Don't carry anything of value. Leave the passport in the safe!
  15. Avoid back alleys and shortcuts. Mainstreets are much safer. I have a story for that one but it can wait. 
  16. If you travel in a time of war, be very low key. Usually blending in is a good idea. We were in Spain when the war in Iraq began and the people took to the streets in protest. We actually feel safer alone than on a tour because we dress like the locals when we can. No one knows we are American.
I know it is a lot but take your time, think it through and see if any of this information may be of some help.You really shouldn't be paranoid. Bad stuff can and will happen. You need to be calm, embrace the adventure and learn to think of each day you make it through as giving you bragging rights. You will have a wonderful time.

Questions anyone? 


Aug 3, 2017

Living in the State of Denial

You have probably been to the State of know the one that is just south of Oblivious and on the road to Stupid! Yes, that is the one. Well that is where my husband and I live. When we are at home in that place, please do not come and visit.

Living in the State of Denial has its own problems...problems that come around and bite you on the behind. Even though you don't live in Stupid you will feel that way.

We are both so healthy and active that when we tip over for example, we decide that it is not our fault, go to bed for a little while and drink a gallon of water. We figure we are going to live forever and a nap will fix all problems.

Then one day one of us tips over in public and a big drama ensues. The people that know what they are talking about (paramedics) want us to take a trip to the hospital but we, in our infinite wisdom, decline as graciously as we can and go home. Now we have scared our family, undermined their confidence in our ability to make decisions and are about to face a big inconvenience. Darn.

The next day finds us sitting of hours in the ER at our local hospital, visiting the doctor within the next couple of day and being grounded by that same doctor. I hate when that happens...don't you?

So today we get to have a stress test...! Could all of this been avoided if we had just not been living in the State of Denial? I am thinking yes. Because now the doctors are trying to recreate what happened! Enduring that once was quite enough thank you.

Where do you live?


Note: The test reveals a healthy!

Jul 26, 2017

Summer Reads: Do You Rewrite Books You Read?

Summer reads seem to fall into a category all of their own. They are light, a quick read, compelling and they usually don't fall into the "literature" category. I have never read one of that I did not want to edit. I feel the need to get a pen and put marks all over everything. I am just that way.

Let it be known here that 1) I have never written a book 2) I am not an editor at all 3) I am eternally hopeful that a book will carry me away without a worry! I do not criticize willy nilly.

I have just finished reading two book, one a romance and the other a mystery. The first, The Little Paris Bookshop was popular in the airports I thing. The second,  Dead Water by Ann Cleeves. They were both ***** reads.

The story behind The Little Paris Bookshop is so endearing. Lost love, a secret door revealed on the opening pages and an owner that has lost all hope for seeing a beautiful day are all set on a barge/bookshop tied up to a mooring in Paris. Part travelogue, part crazy characters and all romance. How could a summer read be any better than this?

I hate to admit it but there are a few teeny tiny things I wanted to rewrite. The tone of the book was so 1950 and yet just about the time my mind had settled in for a lovely river journey the mention of cell phones or the internet was interjected into the story. It would take me several chapters to relax again. In my world, cell phones have no place in a beautiful barge, romance, love lost tale.

Then I finished the Ann Cleeves' novel Dead Water. I read a great deal of it on my phone. That is one of the beautiful things about a summer read...the simplicity of the story. Unlike the Hamilton book I am plowing through, I do not need to see the whole page.

I like this book a lot...why? Well, I had watched the Shetland series on Netflix and loved it. I am an Ann Cleeves fan going back to my first taste of the Vera series and I'm in love with the murder mystery. Reading the book after seeing the series left me with many questions and comparisons. For me that is a good thing. I am easily distracted when the story or the author are not good.

But, in many ways, I did want to rewrite things. I grew to dislike Cleeves' directness. She didn't leave enough to the imagination I thought. Instead of inferring things, she said it outloud as it were. Could I have done better? No, not in anyway. She is a master at what she does. In the end I would not change a thing...well maybe a teeny tiny thing here and there but nothing major!

How do you feel about author's styles and how would you change a few words here and there to make a book resonate with you more?


Jul 24, 2017

"I saw that!" Karma

Just outside the front door at my daughter's house a sign stands as a warning. I says, "I saw that! Karma".

I often note the sign when we go into the front door. What did Karma see today and how is that going to change what happens next.

Well...somebody did something very good on Saturday. The sun, moon and stars were in alignment. We had an almost perfect party with family. I did lose part of the family on the walk to the pool.... Sigh! Stuff happens.

Water babies with Uncle Doug and Aunt Susan

Cousin Elena keep watch over little people. Bryson soon
shed his water wings and wowed us all.

Shay is a tiny 5 years old but she took to the water like she was an old pro.

Our beautiful teen did what she liked most...she read through the whole pool gig!

Then we went home, ate dinner and prepared for a serious game of water balloon tossing that disintegrated into a wonderous water fight. Even the smallest learned to get water out of the dog pool with a water gun. It was so wickedly disorderly. My grown children were allowed to take out revenge on each other! "That one is for running over me with the bicycle." etc. They were soooooo happy!
This little guy did not want to look at me to have his picture taken. It wasn't until a threatened to kiss him all over his face that he peeked. Sorry Brycen.
Granddaughter Alysia came with Embry, our great granddaughter. She had a much fun as anyone and her daddy gave her a marshmallow! Yum!
Uncle Doug's lap is always up for babysitting! 

The evening ended with a marshmallow roast.

I came back home, sat out back and unwound. The perfect place, time and summer breezes.

Have you had a summer party with family or friends? What was your favorite part?