Tag Archives: travel

Cuba

The word Cuba conjures images of American cars and quaint homes, both colorful and well, old. The 1950’s called…..

When we heard a few years ago that Cuba was being opened up for Americans both B and I were really interested in seeing the island before it changes drastically. 

In a few short weeks B and I are traveling to Cuba by way of a cruise ship. We are bookending our trip visiting friends in Tampa. We will use a rental car to drive to and from Miami where our cruise ship docks. It’s a short four night cruise which I am fine with. Seems like a good way to see if you like cruising to me. We get to spend one full day and a night in Havana then a day on the cruise companies private island in the Bahamas.

There are 13 Geocaches in the city. B and I have mapped out the ones we think we will have time to get + yay another country souvenir! Then we sail to NCL’a private island in the Bahamas.

We hope to visit a few places such as the Camera Obscura, Burns Vista Social Club & La Bodeguita del Media bar (a Hemingway haunt),  while in Tampa we plan to visit the Tiffany Museum & the Salvador Dali Museum.

Don’t worry, I will post a follow up when we get back!

P333 Capsule for Travel – Recap

I thought I would recap my capsule wardrobe for travel and how it actually worked for me.

As you may remember, my requirements were.

  • Travel bag [purse] to be hands free, non-bulky yet safe
  • To be comfortable in warm/muggy weather
  • To pack all in a single carry on
  • Mix and match clothing items to rotate through the ten days I am gone

All of the above was achieved – well, except for the comfortable in muggy weather part. Unless you have a cabana boy in front of you with a mister and a palm frond I don’t think you can ever really be comfortable in that kind of weather.

The travel bag worked out really well. The only downside was not having a small wallet to keep track of money and receipts. I used an envelope system that was not practical. I will be trying to find or making a small billfold for use with this bag for my next trip. There is a space that worked well for credit cards in the bag.

Of the items I brought, the leggings, tank dress [used as PJ’s one night], espadrille’s, capri jeans and linen pants were worn minimally. The grey cardi & black ballet flats were always meant for airplane travel only which they were used for. My little going out bag, ombre scarf and head scarfs were never worn. I did end up panicking and bringing a pair of light weight yoga pants and another light weight dress [also used to sleep in one night] which I really didn’t need/wear much.

I would have worn the espadrille’s more but they got very wet on the day we were in Colonial Williamsburg and may be ruined. I also had a reaction to sunscreen and kept my legs covered for the next three days with either my maxi skirt or a longer dress I had brought with me.

I ended up buying a pair of khaki shorts on the first day there. Between the shorts, my grey maxi skirt and various tops, I was set for the weather. By far the BEST purchase I made were the Keen sandal’s. We did A LOT of walking and these held up great!

Because we were traveling and not staying in the same hotel room every night we did not have time to do any laundry. Some of our clothing got a bit stale smelling with the hot weather and multiple wearings. I’m not certain how to combat this in future except for hand washing in a sink and leaving to dry overnight.

Below is what I packed [plus the extra items] and I have crossed out what I would not have brought in hind site. The first number represents what I brought and the second number represents my hind site number.

Bottoms – 6 / 3

  • Leggings black
  • Yoga pants grey
  • Shorts khaki *
  • Maxi skirt grey *
  • Linen pants black *
  • Capri jeans dark wash *

Tops – 6 / 6

  • Umpire waist tank green
  • Tank turquoise
  • Tank black & B/W stripe [layer together and count as one]
  • Tank aqua & white paisley print *
  • Cami aqua*
  • Gauze button down aqua & white *

Dresses – 3 / 1

  • Halter floral aqua
  • Strapless gauze dress multi [alternate to sleep in]
  • Swing tank striped B/W *

Sweaters – 1 / 1

  • Cardi grey

 Shoes – 3 / 3

  • Espadrille’s oatmeal *
  • Ballet flats black *
  • Keen Criss Cross Sandal aqua *

Accessories – 5 / 3

  • Evening bag blue [small holds necessities & has long cross body strap]
  • PJ bottoms and tank aqua [hand wash during trip] *
  • Ombre scarf blue *
  • Travel bag black *
  • Headscarfs paisley green & aqua
  • Bathing suit [did not originally bring]

Total Items – 24 / 17

If we had more down time I would have liked to go for a swim and next trip I will probably pack a swim suit and plan for that. I don’t buy much in the way of souvenirs so I don’t need a lot of extra room in my bag. I bought a bracelet for myself and one for the gal who took care of my dog. I also bought a water bottle [it had paisley’s on it and was turquoise – what can I say].

East Coast Vacation Road Trip: Days 8 – 10

After another continental breakfast we bid adieu to Savannah proper and headed to the Bonaventure Cemetery where we encountered an extremely helpful grounds keeper that gave us the name of some of the plants we had wondered about during our time in the south.

Crepe Myrtle

One of my favorites was Crape Myrtle which comes in many different colors and has a lovely scent.

Cemetery

Johnny Mercer’s family grave site is in this cemetery. We were in time to hear a tour guide talk about much of the life of Johnny. Pretty fascinating.

Mercer Grave Site

I also wanted to see the Wormsloe Plantation. We didn’t have time to tour the plantation so I just pulled in and took a shot of the live oak lined drive. This plantation has been in many films including Forrest Gump. One thing I learned while in the south is the different between a Live Oak and an Oak. A live oak doesn’t lose its leaves in the winter and only survives in the southern US.

Wormsloe

One thing we noticed on our drive from Maryland through Georgia was the lack of highway patrol and the incredible speeds of drivers. That all changed when we hit the Florida state line. The number of patrol cars went up exponentially. Shortly after entering Florida we stopped at a rest stop and obtained our Florida Geocaching souvenir. Then it was on to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the US.

We started off at the Castillo de San Marcos. The Castillo was built of coquina, a soft limestone of broken shells, in 1695. When hit by cannon it absorbs the hit and doesn’t do damage. The coquina was cut on Anastasia island and floated across to create the star shaped Castillo. Over the centuries it has been dominated by the French, Spanish, British and US.

Castillo

We arrived about a half hour before it closed but had a decent amount of time to view the historical displays set up in most of the rooms. There was a nice breeze running through the lower portion. We ventured up top for some amazing views of nearby Anastasia Island and the St. Augustine lighthouse.

Anastasia Island View

We toured the grounds and did two Geocaches [an earth and a virtual]. This is where we saw this curious structure. Turns out it is a furnace used to heat up cannon balls to fire at wooden ships.

Furnace

We walked about a half mile through old town St. Augustine to dinner at A1A Ale Works. B had the lobster pot pie and flight of beer and I had the seafood paella and a porter.

After dinner we drove over to Anastasia island and hit another Geocache near the St. Augustine lighthouse. Unfortunately it was too late in the day to tour the lighthouse.

Lighthouse

Our drive from St. Augustine to Tampa was pretty uneventful until we got to Orlando near Disney World where they were doing a bunch of construction. As we were driving we noticed lightning to the southeast and soon we were in the middle of a summer storm to get to our friends new home. We visited for a bit and then as it was midnight drove on to the hotel for the night as they didn’t have all of their furniture yet and the room was covered for that last night.

Breakfast the next morning was a quick stop at Starbucks and a Geocache where I found a trackable. I brought this one back to Seattle and will leave it somewhere on this coast so it will gain a lot of mileage. We headed out to Clearwater Beach which is on the Gulf of Mexico. We were told by no less than 3 separate people to try the grouper sandwich at Frenchy’s. It did not disappoint.

We walked out to the beach and decided to do a Geocache before heading back to Dover where are friends new home is. Below is B with the Gulf in the background very near where we found our last Geocache of the trip. The sand was like sugar.

Gulf and Bill

Bouganvillea on our walk back to the car.

Bouganvilla

Not certain what this flower is but it was pretty!

Hybiscus

We drove back to our friends house just in time for another summer storm. We were scheduled to fly out that evening [again on the red eye] and they asked if we could return their rental car. We said our goodbyes and loaded up for our drive out. The weather quickly turned worse. I had the wipers on their fastest speed and I could barely see out the window. Within the hour it has stopped raining and the sun was shining again. Got to love summer storms on the east coast!

We were told we needed to go to Cigar City Brewing before we left town. We each had a flight of four we chose and we both ended up getting a Cafe Americano which is a 11% double stout.

Sadly we had to end our vacation and head to the airport for our flight home. At this point B was in a super silly mood.

Silly B

We had a layover in Phoenix which was delayed and where I experienced the beginnings of a migraine. When we got on the plane it was further delayed as they had to fix some lights. We ended up landing an hour and a half late [3:00 AM Pacific time] in Seattle and our shuttle was not waiting for us. After a phone call our car came and got us and delivered us to our home. Thank goodness my migraine went away while I tried to sleep on the plane!

Except for the flight and car issues coming home, our vacation was awesome and restful full of good food, great beer, fun friends and great historical visits. There are a few places we would like to return such as Richmond, VA for the Edgar Allan Poe museum [and Legengs Brewing – those Brussels sprouts!], Colonial Williamsburg [we got there late and could have seen so much more] as well as Jamestown and Yorktown. Asheville, NC for the Biltmore House [if we had time we would have gone but it’s west of Charlotte] and Savannah.

We know we will likely be back in DC next Memorial Day for Hope and Lauren’s wedding and we plan to go to Philadelphia for a few days beforehand. We would also like to include George and Martha’s place [Mount Vernon] on that trip and see more of the museums on the National Mall.

Our friends who moved to Tampa, Brad & Susan will be there for six years so we will likely visit them in that time and include the Tiffany and Salvador Dali museums which we thought we would visit this time but ran out of time. Along with Disney and Universal Studios [Harry Potter World anyone?].

We collapsed in to bed and slept until around 9:00 AM. That is when we got up to prepare ourselves for camping. Post to come soon!

East Coast Vacation Road Trip: Days 6 & 7

Monday morning we woke up in Columbia, SC. After complimentary breakfast at our hotel we headed out in search of good coffee and then on to the Capitol building for a virtual cache and a bit of sightseeing.

Capitol Bldg

The virtual cache involved the still flying Confederate flag [as of Monday June 15th] in the front of the capitol building. A hotly contested situation for decades – and currently. I wonder what will happen to the cache as the flag is coming down.

Bronze Star

There are several spots on the exterior marked with bronze stars where General Sherman’s troops hit the buildings with cannon. I like that they left the marks and noted them in this way.

Monument

Above is a monument to fallen soldiers in a war with Mexico in 1847. Lots of palm trees, the state tree of South Carolina.

Palm

We lingered for a while and then headed to Charleston. This is a city I have wanted to visit for most of my life. Below cobbled streets made from ballast carried on ships. VERY hard to walk on!

Cobblestone

Upon arrival we parked and went to Southend Brewery & Smokehouse for lunch. B had the shrimp and grits and I had She Crab soup and Fried Green tomatoes [I couldn’t help it – another photo of food!].

Southed Food

Small portions but very filling. Both B and I each had a flight to sample their beers.

Southend

The interior is very industrial with exposed beams and brick. I really liked the atmosphere although jarringly they were playing 90’s country overhead. The reason I know this? I used to listen to country in the 90’s [let’s keep it our little secret ‘mkay?].

Southend 2

After lunch we wandered down to the water. There was a boardwalk that had a covered section with about a half dozen porch swings hanging from the rafters. A nice breeze was blowing and there were a couple fountains that you were invited to cool off in.

board Walk

We ventured in to Washington Square Park to find a virtual cache. There were lots of cool vignettes to see along the way. I love how the grill in this fence is not covered over in greenery.

Fence Grill

I really like how the ivy emphasizes the stairs at this home.

Front Door

We stopped for coffee in the blessed air conditioning. This horse was in the lobby of the building.

Horse

Along the road there were hundreds of old homes and street parking was at a premium. Many notifications on gates stating “private property, enter at invitation of homeowner only”.

Home

Even thought this was a city I have been dying to visit most of my life, it was different than I thought it would be. The downtown historical area seemed really commercial.

We stayed for a few hours and then headed to Savannah. The destination we were both really looking forward to. It was later in the evening as we pulled in and we set out to find a hotel. We were hoping to find one in the historic district with parking so we could do a lot of walking. We struck gold on the third place we checked. People, if you are EVER in the Savannah area I IMPLORE you to stay at the 17hundred90!

Our room was $119 and included two free drink vouchers, parking and a continental breakfast. The main hotel building was built in 1790. We were told we would be staying in a guest house which was built in the early 1800’s.  This guest house had two bedroom suites and a full living, dining and kitchen. The other bedroom was not occupied that night so we had the entire place to ourselves. Below a shot of the front of the house on Oglethorpe, the main street in downtown historic Savannah.

First Night Hotel

This hotel even has a ghost named Anna. Here is the alley entrance to our room for the night.

First Night Back Entrance

Our bedroom suite had a king bed and a rather lavish bathroom with granite counters, a shower and jacuzzi tub. The bed was so tall I actually needed to use the provided stool to get in to it!

First Night Bed

First Night Bath

This was the chandelier over our bed.

First Night Chandelier

The kitchen on the main floor had been redone with stainless appliances and granite as well. The bedroom, living and dining rooms all had period pieces.

First Night Parlor

I believe what the kitchen is now used to be outdoors as there are windows from the dining to the kitchen.

First Night Kitchen

After leaving our bags we went back to the bar in the main building for a drink. As we walked in we were trying to decide where to sit when three older people said “you are not from around here, sit with us”. We spent a good hour chatting with Jill, Mary & Jeb who are from Savannah [Mary is from Greenville, SC]. We also chatted with Bud [Jeb’s nephew who was more our age] and had lived in Seattle for about seven years. It was certainly a kick in the pants!

We were in need of sustenance and walked a few blocks to The Old Pink House for dinner. B had Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast, Blackberry Bourbon Glaze, Sweet Potato with Pecan Vanilla Butter and Collards and I had Caramelized Vidalia Onion & Sweet Potato Ravioli w/Savory Pecan Cream Sauce. The meal was delicious and we received a tour from our waiter afterwards who gave us dessert on the house after we had a lovely chat about his time spent in Seattle. Later we found out it’s incredibly hard to just walk up and get a table. Luck was with us!

On our way back to our room we stopped at Reynolds square to listen to a gentleman play the violin – Moonlight Sonatta. It was eerily appropriate for the area and the evening.

Violinist

The next morning after breakfast we inquired weather we could stay in the same room for another night. We realized the night before we needed another day in the city to see all we wanted to. A room in a different guest house was available and they said they would bring our luggage over when it was ready. We set off as happy tourists.

On our way down Oglethorpe we stopped at the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.

Juliette Gordon Lowe Birthplace

It was super hot and humid and we stopped in to a local place for coffee. It was blessedly air conditioned and decorated in a great bohemian way.

Coffee 1

This quote was placed on the wall just under the deer head. “No whining, no complaining, absolutely no frowning. Only hugs, smiles and warm fuzzy feelings are allowed.” I wholeheartedly agree and the coffee was excellent too!

Coffee 2

Not only do I take photos of things I walk on but I also take photos of things above me. Tin ceiling in the coffee house bathroom.

Tin Ceiling

We found several caches that day and earned our Georgia souvenir. We walked around most of the city including its 24 squares. They have an open container law and we, of course had to stop in and get a beer to go!

To Go Cups

One of the harder caches we found was near this statue called The Waving Girl. The statue is a representation of Florence Martus and her devoted Collie. She was lonely and would welcome each passing ship with a wave of her handkerchief during the day and a lantern at night. The sailors would respond with a toot of their horn. She kept this up for 44 years and welcomed more than 50,000 ships. Florence grew in to a legend, a ship was named after her and this statue was placed in her honor.

Waving Girl

This cache was a bit harder and right from the start I had an idea of how it was disguised as we had seen something like that before in Seattle. After taking turns standing in the shade and looking in the sun, we finally found the cache. We decided a late lunch at The Pirate House was in order.

One of the oldest buildings in Savannah built in 1753. It opened as an inn and was located near a 100 acre lot called he Trustees Garden which was the first experimental garden in America. General Oglethorpe who founded Savannah had the vision of a Utopian society. Below is a photo of the original Herb House. Eventually it was enveloped in to the building it is today.

Pirate House

Our waiter [also someone who had lived in Seattle – noticing a trend here?] suggested the buffet and since we only had about fifteen minutes until it closed he suggested we use two plates.

Buffet

I tried to take small portions of everything and load up only one plate but was not successful. Some of the items on the buffet; fried okra, mashed sweet potatoes, collard greens, fried chicken, roasted veggies [I can’t remember everything]. There was also cornbread and biscuits. We were stuffed and a pirate tour after the meal was a great way to get some air conditioned exercise and learn a little about the history of the place.

We went back to our new room for a little down time. Here is the back entrance to our guest house for the second night.

Back Entrance

The patio was just off our ground floor room. This one had a queen bed.

Patio 1

Patio 2

We had our own parlor on the ground floor.

Parlor

Front entrance. Loved the front door knob and overhead fixture in the ground floor hallway.

Second Night House

Dorr Knob

Light Fixture

The bedroom featured a fireplace, another jacuzzi tub and a window from the bedroom to the bathroom. I suspect the bathroom was carved from the original back porch. That tub easily fit two people.

Fireplace

Bathroom Window Huge Tub

Bathroom Window

Bathroom Window 2

Sink and Window

We had a mini fridge and coffee maker as well. A quick rest and shower and we were ready to do some more wandering of the squares and some geogaching. We found a cache in one of the squares and I left a trackable which has now made its way to Jacksonville, FL.

We stopped by the Mercer house made popular by the book and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which was closed for touring [next time]. It was named for Johnny Mercer, a lyricist and composer and the founder of Capitol Records.

Mercer House

Saw this stuffed peacock in someones window just on the other side of the stree from the Mercer house. I heart peacocks! This is when a local walking his dog stopped to chat with us [did the photo taking identify us as tourists?].

Peacock

We ended up in Forsythe Park which is the largest “square” in the city covering over 30 acres and has the most dramatic fountain. It was laid out in the 1840’s. The fountain was built in 1848. On St. Patrick day every year the city dyes the water of the fountain green. There is a rather large Irish immigrant population in Savannah.

Forsythe Park Fountain

Dinner that night was the Six Pence British Pub. Below not a Tardis!

Not A Tardis

I had the Welsh Rarebit and B had a sausage stuffed with mashed potatoes. After we walked back to our room and showered to cool down we headed to bed. The last few days of our trip will be posted tomorrow.

East Coast Vacation Road Trip: Days 4 & 5

After a good night sleep B and I headed to the Black Sheep located in a little house in a historic district of Richmond. This is where I took a photo of food.

Brekkers

But can you blame me? I had the Breakfast Batteau. Half a toasted french baguette topped with sweet potato butter, crispy pan fried roasted duck leg meat [duck is often more popular than chicken on the east coast], pepper jelly glaze, bacon, two eggs, grilled red onions, arugula & ricotta salata. B had the biscuits and gravy with a side of bacon and we shared apricot apple sauce. If you are ever in Richmond, VA – EAT HERE!

Not only do I take photos of yummy food. I take photos of what I walk on. There were these great sidewalks paved in herringbone style with bricks everywhere.

Brick

After breakfast we headed to Colonial Williamsburg which was about an hour and a half east. First stop on our tour was the first Capitol building of Virginia where the “General Assembly debated and framed legislation and the courts dispensed justice.” Below a photo of our tour guide through the building. He had me at “if you want to start a revolution, follow me!” He was super knowledgeable and a full time employee/historian of the city.

Our Host

After our tour I wanted to get an iced coffee and thought I could purchase some at R. Charleton’s Coffee house. Apparently they do not actually sell coffee there but it was a guided tour. While we were waiting we got to see the drum and fife walk by.

Drum and Fife

The tour of the coffee house was a glimpse in to the life and times of 1776 America. The owner, R. Charleton was also a wig maker. We sat down with our group and were immediately introduced to a lady and gentleman dressed in period garb and folded us in the the local conversation of the day. The gentleman, a barrister, asked us where we were from. When we said Seattle he was confused as he had never heard of that place before [in 1776 there was no Seattle]. So he accepted my description of being time travelers. I had the hot chocolate which had a bit of cayenne added to it. Yum! B tried the coffee. There was also tea available.

We had prepared ourselves and loaded some caches on to our phones. We did a virtual cache near the stocks [below B with a perfect hangdog look] and found out there is a tunnel for cars under the colonial village.

Stocks

Through the day we walked around the grounds and watched many people at work in different trades such as Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop & Public Armory, the Brickmaker, the Milliner and the Silversmith. There were a lot more trades to visit but we had gotten there later in the day and still wanted to tour some other areas. Below a photo in the Blacksmith area. It was common that time to have women working there as well.

Blacksmith

Just after the Brickmaker the skies opened up and we experienced a torrential summer storm. It felt lovely as it was so hot and humid!

B is Wet

We were drenched and ran to the relative safety of the James Geddy House. We learned about slavery and the effects of the embargo when the well to do could no longer get items from the Orient and England.

When that tour was over it had stopped raining and we had just enough time for the last tour of the day of the Governor’s Palace.

Governors Palace

The entry was spectacular with swords and guns arranged in an elegant display.

Display

The gardens were large and very formal. There was also a very large cooks garden. The kitchen was a separate building.

Formal Garden

We spent a lot of time in Williamsburg and didn’t see nearly as much as we would have liked. That means a trip back of course to include Jamestown and Yorktown. We also would like to see Mount Vernon and Monticello. I have been to both but its been a long time.

One thing that was interesting about Colonial Williamsburg was how open to the public it is. Literally streets with occupied homes but right up against it as well as a modern shopping area. However, if you wanted to take any of the guided tours you needed to show your badges.

A quick stop to quench our thirst at Ale Werks Brewing for a shared flight where we also grabbed a cache and I dropped a TB [Travel Bug]. The flight holder in the photo below is a rib from a barrel.

Flight

We ended up going back to Richmond and eating at Legend Brewing again. This time I had the Reuben and the yummy fried Brussels sprouts.

In the morning we headed out to Charlotte, NC. On our way we stopped at Cracker Barrel. The food was OK and really nicely priced. We stopped near a Waffle House and nabbed our only North Carolina cache for the souvenir.

Driving in to Charlotte was a trip back in time as I had lived there fifteen years ago and had not been back since. Originally we were going to hook up with Brad and his son at the Nascar Hall of Fame but we got in to town later then they did. B still wanted to go so we popped in for a couple hours.

Hall of Fame

I am not huge in to Nascar and B is somewhat of a car nut but I found it interesting. Something I did know what that Nascar started during prohibition. Bootlegger’s were forever trying to find ways to make their cars faster than the police which eventually led to organized racing.

Old car

The museum is a decent size and you can see it in a couple of hours.

Victory Road

There is a simulator you can get in to test yourself against others. B did it and had a blast.

We left the Hall of Fame and headed to Birdsong Brewing for a flight. My favorite was their Jalapeno Pale Ale which is a little lighter than the one at Steamplant I have had. Of course had to pick up a couple.

Jalapeno

We met a family there and chatted for a bit and they told us about Sugar Creek Brewing so we headed there and split a flight and a favorite dark beer. The family we saw at Bird Song ended up there as well.

Sugar Creek

Our last beer stop in Charlotte was Old Mecklenberg Brewing. We unintentionally were bar hopping with the Sallman family and they invited us over to their table. B and I split a beer as we needed to drive. We ended up chatting with them for a while and we all became friends on Facebook. One of their sons told us about a place in Clearwater, Florida we needed to check out called Frenchy’s.

I wanted to drive through the area where I had lived before we headed out. Pineville is almost to the state line between North and South Carolina. Right down the road from my old apartment is the birthplace of James K Polk, our eleventh president. You can see a reconstruction of his childhood cabin peeking through the trees in the photo below.

Jame K Polk

We soon bid Charlotte good buy and were headed to Columbia for the night. We stopped at a rest stop and found a really cool “wormhole” cache which I will go in to in a future Awesome Geocaching post. This was our first South Carolina cache and that earned us the souvenir.

Our last stop for the night before getting a hotel was Flying Saucer Draught Emporium for a thirst quenching beverage and a late meal. A couple of the beers we wanted to try had blown and the kitchen was closed. The waitress was super nice and the kitchen made us salads and had a pretty decent beer before tucking in to bed at a nearby hotel.

Tomorrow days 6 and 7. Columbia, Charleston and Savannah.

East Coast Vacation Road Trip: Days 1 – 3

Our vacation to the east coast was amazing. We did not have a set schedule just that we had to be in Tampa Thursday to deliver our friends car and catch our plane. The trip was one “in the flow” moment after another.

Tuesday evening our car arrived and whisked us off to the airport. While waiting for our flight we walked through an exhibition of Pearl Jam poster art by Chuck Sperry.

Pearl Jam

We grabbed some food and toasted to our trip. Fireball cinnamon whiskey is excellent cold!

CheersOur layover in Chicago around 4:30 AM [local time] gave us enough time to nab a virtual cache in the airport earning us a souvenir for the state of Illinois. Lots of pretty glass art overhead too.

Glass Art

I was a bit delirious from trying to sleep on a plane (note to self: never flying overnight again) and thought my seat number was our gate number. Gah!

We arrived in Baltimore Wednesday morning and a friend of a friend picked us up at the airport. We were definitely a bit tired after traveling all night. Our new friend Wendy drove us to a Starbucks on the way to our friend Brad and Susan’s house. Coffee and some breakfast revived us even though it was  in the high eighties and humid. We were both dressed for evening Seattle weather and a bit warm.

After getting to their house we borrowed a car to go get B some shorts as he had none and didn’t have time before our trip to get some. We got the lay of the land a bit for our temporary stay in the Silver Springs area of Maryland. On the way back to the house we grabbed a Geocache, scoring us a Maryland souvenir. It was part of a Seven Dwarfs series on a really cool nature trail at a park near their house.

We were both pretty tired and warm so napped and showered. Dinner that night was at Dogfish Head brewery and taproom with our friends Brad and Susan as well as Wendy and her husband.

Thursday morning we headed out to the metro to ride in to DC and see the sights. There are quite a few virtual caches in the national mall area. We started at the Canadian embassy where we saw this amazing sculpture called The Spirit of the Haida Gwaii. This earned us a DC souvenir.

The Spirit of the Haida Gwaii

We wandered in to the National Gallery, Air & Space Museum with another virtual out front [briefly – it was WAY to crowded with busloads of kids groups]. The Botanic Gardens [our last virtual of the day].

Botanic Gardens

We were getting hungry and stopped in the Native Amerian Museum for some lunch. Below totems in front of the museum.

Totems

If you are ever in the DC area, this is a well kept secret. Lunch at the Native American Museum is THE BOMB! I didn’t want to eat a lot as we were to have dinner later with a friend of mine and her fiance that live in the area. I had an interesting salad with asparagus, radish [normally don’t like this] and endive with some Indian cheese bread. B had chili.

I thought the design of the building was amazing and perfectly represented the American Indian.

American Indian Museum

It reminded me of caves in the Arizona area.

Mummy Cave Ruin, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Navaho Indian Reservation near Chinle, Az Cave area was occupied during Pueblo Period, 750-1300
Mummy Cave Ruin, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Navaho Indian Reservation near Chinle, Az Cave area was occupied during Pueblo Period, 750-1300

We walked along the mall a bit more and had a beer near the Smithsonian castle [gasp it was a Budweiser – we were thirsty!]. The mall area is all torn up as they are doing some major construction to replace sod and such. We ended up at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History [the main place both B and I wanted to stop at] and wandered around for a few hours.

Natural History Elephant

Above is the main rotunda in the museum and below, the Hope Diamond. I remember seeing the Hope Diamond when I was in DC about 30 years ago. I was fascinated by it and it’s sordid history. It used to be housed in a different space and is now in the center of the room. The diaz it sits on rotates and stops at each corner of the case for about twenty seconds.

Hope Diamond

There was a wonderful display of photography from Frans Lanting who works for National Geographic. One of my favorite photos was of an elephant walking through the lobby of a hotel in Zambia. The story goes the hotel wanted to make their lobby bigger but there was a path for elephants to get to some mango trees. The contractor said they would just go around after the expansion. Nope, the elephants just go through the lobby the way they always have [notice the guy on the right in the photo below taking a picture].

Elephant Hotel

My friend and her fiance met up with us and we took the metro to Founding Farmers. One of the most amazing meals! I had butternut squash mascarpone ravioli. B had chicken bolognese bucatini. All four of us ended up ordering different items and sharing bites. The first time I have encountered chicken and waffles. B and I ordered the chocolate mousse for two. It was huge and yummy and easily dessert for four which we of course shared. It was a wonderful visit with someone I have known about 30 years and her fiance Lauren was awesome. We will be heading back to DC next Memorial day for their wedding [below Lauren & Hope on the Metro].

Hope and Lauren

Friday we were scheduled to take Brad’s car and start heading south. We got a late start and ended up in Richmond, VA. B had researched brew pubs and we arrived at Legend Brewing. They had an outdoor patio area with live music.

Legend

I honestly cannot remember what I ordered [even looking at the menu online] but B got the Hull Street Station [coffee and spice rubbed smoked beef brisket] with a side of fried Brussels sprouts. So good! Seriously the Brussels sprouts were awesome!

A note of interest which we did not know before we went to Richmond. There is a museum to Edgar Allan Poe. Had we had more time we would have stopped there. Shortly after we found a hotel and logged a Geocache to obtain our Virginia souvenir.

Tomorrow I will share days 4 – 7 [Williamsburg, VA to Savannah, GA] starting with a gem of a breakfast place in Richmond we heard about from locals we met at dinner.

June Goals

Two posts in one day. I can’t believe it but almost half the year has been experienced already! We had some lovely weather in May but June has started out rainy and gloomy. I am actually glad for the lower temperatures. It might make caching a little tough as we want to complete 100 days in a row and as of yesterday we were at 44 consecutive days [almost halfway there].

A couple days ago I joined a local book group [women, wine & books]. I know none of the ladies in the group. The chosen book for June is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Surival, Resilience, and Redempton by Laura Hillenbrand. I have not read this book yet or seen the film that resulted. Our meeting is the last Saturday of the month at a local cafe. I am looking forward to it.

I have two books loaded on to my Kindle for my upcoming vacation: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I enjoyed the film for Gone Girl that I took a chance on another recommendation by Reese Witherspoon and also downloaded  Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

As noted in my May wrap up, I slightly revamped my updates to just post what I have [or want] to achieve.

Net Worth

Should be positive by the end of this month.

Retirement

  • 401[k] personal: $134.58
  • 401[k] employer match: $67.29
  • IRA interest: $118.52

Total: $320.39

Savings

  • Savings: $800

Total: $1800

Debt

  • Personal loan 2: $200 payoff April 2020
  • Car payment: $200 payoff July 2015
  • Key Bank: $43.50 payoff August 2015

Total: $443.50

The Great Outdoors/Travel

  • Road trip from Baltimore, MD to Tampa, FL with a multi day stop in Savannah, GA
  • Camping at Camano Island State Park
  • Geocaches: Complete HQ Geo Tour, caching every day this month and acquire 6 souvenirs for each state we travel through on our vacation [Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia & Florida]. Follow me on Instagram if you like.
  • Trackables: Plan on leaving a trackable on our vacation
  • Learn some archery: Might be on hold but we will try to find some time

Hand Crafts

  • Hexipuffs: 5
  • Start on some projects that have been sitting around [owl & hand bag]

P333

  • Went through clothing and will have an upcoming summer post as well as a travel post.

Gardening

  • Start on woodland area [after return from vacation]
  • Crate composte pile
  • Start working on chicken yard weeds

Minimalism

  • Move two book shelves to living room
  • Bring my two book shelves from storage to spare room
  • Clean up spare room
  • Create sewing space in spare room [will involve bringing more items from storage]

Better Health

  • Complete 2 hikes
  • Start working out again 2 days a week
  • Start the I Quite Sugar program after return from vacation

Here’s to this month!

* For the purposes of Geocaching, the notations above are [smileys] logged as found [dnf] did not find [v] virtual [r] retrieved, [d] discovered [v] trackables visited] & [mng] meet n greet.

**I found out this past month that if I have a trackable I will never get rid of I can have it visit all of my caches which will show a map of where I have been. I have a trackable dog tag on my dog and use that one as my personal map of visits.