How I spent my summer vacation. (Queen + Adam Lambert, Fun Runs, Horses & Season Finales)

I awoke to a skiff of snow on my car.  It will be a brief appearance only to remind us that winter is coming.

Yes, it will melt and the days will warm again for a time,

but…Summer is over.  

Since I work at a university this is always marked by students returning. The new ones always look so excited and hopeful.  They haven’t yet cracked a book to study so anything and everything is possible (come December their look will be bleaker, caffeine riddled and hollow-eyed as they cram for exams) but this past week they were busy meeting new study buddies and checking out fraternities and favourite hangouts.

My grandson also started his first day of grade 1.  He was terrified until he met his new teacher, then he smiled from ear to ear in his new school duds, sporting his new shoes and shiny backpack.  Memories of my own back-to-school days reminded me that a common first assignment was to write about our summer vacation.  I hated that because I lived on a farm and every day was the same as the next.  Play, chores, sleep, play, chores, sleep. (yeah, I know, tough life)  As a child nothing seemed to be anything exciting to write about.  Chasing squirrels and catching snakes never seemed that thrilling to me.  

So in keeping with back-to-school, I am going to write about how I spent my summer vacation. Only, I will be doing it as a photo journal since a picture’s worth a thousand words. However, if I posted every photo in one sitting it would be the equivalent of War and Peace. Therefore, I will make this a three part sequel.  

Sit back, grab a coffee and browse some pics, after all, winter is coming.

Part 1.

Probably the highlight of my summer was attending three Queen concerts with Adam Lambert stepping into the formidable shoes of Freddie Mercury. They played 35 shows plus a preview show: across Canada, United States, Korea, Japan, Australia & New Zealand in 81 days, selling out many arenas including Madison Square Gardens. Their final show was in New Zealand on Sept. 4.

Here are a few previously unpublished photos of my concert adventures. The following pics are in no particular order but illustrate their Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver gigs. (All the photos and videos featured in this blog are my own.) 

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I have published this one before but they are having so much fun it's worth repeating!

I have published this one before but they are having so much fun it’s worth repeating!

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Take that bow.Taking their encore bows.

Vancouver after the show.

Vancouver after the show.

City lights

City lights

A final toast to a fabulous tour.

A final toast to a fabulous tour.

  Although the Queen + Adam Lambert tour has wrapped up for now, Brian May has hinted that future shows are not out of the question.  In the meantime, Queen will be busy with other projects which include releasing some previously  unreleased tracks featuring Freddie Mercury and perhaps Michael Jackson.  

Adam Lambert is also heading back into the studio to finish up his third album, of which his fans (myself included) are eagerly awaiting. 

Tomorrow, part 2, Color-Me-Rad

Where have I been…a Vancouver Island pictorial

It has been 8 months (seriously, 8 months, what the hell have I been doing with my life) since I have written a post.  Let me blame it on Candy Crush.  Do you have any idea how difficult level 64 is!

Or I could blame it on my work or some new direction my life has been taking but truthfully my procrastination really has no excuse other than laziness (and candy crush, that one really does count).  So tonight- I get back on track.  On with the blog!

and we’re off…

In August we took one week vacation to Vancouver Island. We flew direct from Edmonton to Victoria and rented a car at the airport so that we could easily tour the island.  We stayed in Victoria for two nights at the very lovely Huntingdon Hotel and Suites on the Harbour which had an awesome location right in the heart of all the action.  Considering Victoria is a major retirement hub for Canada’s seniors, action might not be the word I’m looking for but Victoria definitely won me over with it’s captivating ocean views and relaxing pubs.  From Victoria we headed up the coast stopping along the way in Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.  After spending a night there we headed across the island to Ucluelet.  We headed back to Duncan and made our way via ferry to Salt Spring Island (not seen on the map) for two nights before ferrying over to Sidney for one last night before flying home.

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The Huntingdon Hotel and Suites on the Harbour was walking distance to The Empress Hotel, the Victoria Clipper Ferry, Fisherman’s Wharf Park and the British Columbia Parliament building.  I was sad to see the Wax Museum was closed down, however.

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We couldn’t resist taking a tour on the Victoria Hippo bus. These buses are specially designed amphibious vehicles that work as both bus and boat. As a bus we were toured around Victoria’s city attractions and parks for ~45 min before a very wet splash into the Pacific Ocean for a further 45 min tour along the coastline. Our guide was informative, of course, and her bubbly enthusiasm made me want two of whatever she’d had before embarking on the tour. There were three buses that have these amphibious capabilities and ours was named Henrietta. The other two were called Happy and Harry. There were people from the States, England, Australia, Belgium and Denmark on our bus. It was a great way to get an overview of everything downtown Victoria had to offer.

Some of Victoria’s local sights:

SAM_7866The Empress hotel is famous for its Afternoon Tea.

Float planes are an essential mode of transport between mainland Vancouver and Vancouver Island and the tinier Gulf Islands.Float planes are an essential mode of transport between the mainland and islands.

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Dining options were many and we checked out a few pubs along the way.  There was a great selection of micro-brewed beers, ciders and local wines to try.

SAM_7601SAM_7844Fisherman’s Wharf was a must see for its colourful houseboats and famous fish and chips.

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SAM_7719It was a 30 min walk to the wharf from our hotel so we grabbed one of these water taxis for the ride home.

SAM_7850SAM_7717As cute as these houseboats were, I just would not be able to downsize to that extreme nor would I want tourists gawking in my windows.

SAM_7721Whale watching was readily available.

The British Columbia Parliament Building with its oxidized copper dome.

SAM_7629The secret to living a longer more loving life has been revealed!

SAM_7668SAM_7663SAM_7672SAM_7628SAM_7618SAM_7645SAM_7638SAM_7631We enjoyed our short visit to Victoria and would definitely love to return for an extended stay next time.

Next we were on our way to Qualicum Beach.

IMG_1810This family run hotel was comfortable and offered great views of the ocean tide coming in.

SAM_7878This was the view from our room, a very decent pub/restaurant was just across the road.

SAM_7879The tide is out.

IMG_1809And on its way in.

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IMG_1831Ucluelet is on the rugged, windy, beautiful and wild western coast of the island. It faces the Pacific Ocean.

It had several hiking trails and secluded little beaches waiting to be discovered but one must take care to not get caught out after dark or in the fog.

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SAM_7919The Salt Spring Inn, located in the charming village of Ganges, on Salt Spring Island was not only comfortable but boasted a fabulous restaurant.

IMG_1904The view from our room was of the Ganges harbour.

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These painted pianos were set on various street corners inviting many renditions of chopsticks.  Although not everyone is a Liberace, Salt Spring Island does have its share of famous inhabitants, as well as, a plethora of artists, musicians and winemakers.

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The final stretch, on the ferry to Sidney where we would spend our last night before flying home.  We had an amazing time on Salt Spring Island and I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again.  I just fell in love with its charm.

SAM_7950 SAM_7959 IMG_2042 IMG_2043 SAM_7969 IMG_2014 IMG_2011 IMG_2031 SAM_7966 SAM_7967 SAM_7977 SAM_7988 SAM_7979What on earth are these creatures?

And the fellas below appear to be waiting for some fool to take a dive.

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So that concludes my pictorial summary of our Vancouver Island vacation.  I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as we enjoyed the journey.  If and when I ever retire I would definitely think seriously about joining the rest of Canada’s seniors on one of these islands.  I might even take up lawn bowling.

2013, I Am Ready…

Here we go 2013!

New Year’s Eve is one of two days of the year that I use to examine the goals I’ve made for myself, the other day being my birthday.  Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions I like to think of it as planning my ‘life renovations’.  I am in a constant state of renovation.  This year I wrote down my desired renos as goals completed and tied them into a scroll.  I’ve put them out to the universe, so now, if it doesn’t work out- I’ll blame it on the universe. Haha. Kidding Universe, don’t want to piss off karma.  In a year’s time I will unroll the scroll and see if I have achieved any of the proposed outcomes.

One resolution that I made when I started this blog was to write a post every week.  Well that has obviously not happened.  Instead of beating myself up about it I have modified that resolution to once a month.  12 times a year seems very doable to me.  As for weight loss, yikes I have had to modify that one as well.  I’m going for 24 lbs in the next year.  Again 2 lbs/mo is very doable.

Besides making resolutions (or planning your Life’s renovations) New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection.  I reflect on 2012 with a smile. It was good year for me with the occasional blip:

  • I had a car accident, with no major damage or injuries.
  • I dropped my cellphone into the toilet, the bag of rice trick did not work, but I got it replaced at no extra cost to me. Whew!
  • I had root canal which got infected on my vacation, requiring my cheek to be lanced and freezing didn’t work.  Ouch!

Great memories definitely outshone the negative for 2012 and for that I am thankful. I had lots of adventures with good friends and family.  The most recent was in October to Phoenix, Arizona for the state fair.  I went with two co-workers and we used a VRBO condo which worked out perfectly.  The weather was sunny and hot, although for Phoenix residents they felt it had cooled down considerably.  85-90F is as lot cooler than 110F but it was hot enough for us.

Phoenix

A car is a must for Phoenix, our condo was rather isolated and although taxis can be expensive, it was the most practical for our short visit.

Phoenix

We enjoyed the weather, the shopping and the rugged mountainous terrain.  And the heat, talk about hot desert sun…but the sky was so blue.

Phoenix2 Arizona

cacti Palm trees Phoneix flowers

One of the highlights was attending the Arizona State Fair.

Cotton Candy

My inner child screamed for candy floss, otherwise known as Cotton Candy.

AZ state fair

The rides look fun but personally I find them terrifying.  However, the three of us did get on the chair lift that carries you high above the crowds across the fairgrounds.  With nothing to hold you in but a skinny bar I found that my vertigo was indeed intact. Luckily my dear friend Jody was able to keep me from jumping off.  Although just barely.  (We laughed about it later over drinks, lots of drinks.) Yet, I was able to go on the Ferris wheel without a problem.  I think having my feet dangling is what unnerved me.

Fairgrounds

Ferris Wheel

I went on this.

While in Phoenix we also took in an Adam Lambert Concert.  He put on a fabulous show to an exuberant crowd. OLL AL2

good seats

We had great seats close to the stage.

He played most of the songs from Trespassing, his newest CD, which

debuted at number 1 on Billboard 200.

Adam Lambert Arizona Concert

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AL with Ashley, his bass player.

Honey, I think you have a run in those nylons!. lol

I just loved the evenings in Phoenix.  Yes, lots of good memories with some really great co-workers.Phoenix sunset

This past year made me really appreciate those that I work with.  They make going to work something to look forward to.  Even on stressful days there is always a laugh to be had.

I am excited to get started on this new year, 2013.

Already in the works for January:  I have my granddaughter’s 18th birthday to celebrate!  And NO- I am not that OLD, child bride here, remember!  We will do some good old karaoke in a local pub.  (18 is the legal drinking age here in Alberta)

Also a Blue Rodeo concert and OPRAH, hello it’s  OPRAH! She is coming to Edmonton.

Then March sees me travel back for some more adventures in the Mayan Riviera, this time staying in a villa on Akumal Beach to celebrate one of my best friend’s 50th birthday, don’t worry I won’t name you. Yay! So here we go!  I am ready.

Bragg Creek is something to Brag about!

I love to travel but since work doesn’t alway jive with my wants I have to schedule little breaks to keep me sane (or some semblance of).  I decided to use the Canada Day long weekend (that’s July 1 for you non-Canadians) to take a little road trip to the hamlet of Bragg Creek, located 337 km (209 mi.) South of Edmonton, Alberta.  Bragg Creek is only 44 km (27 mi.) east of Calgary which is a mere half hour drive for the bulk of Bragg Creek residents that work in Calgary.

If you love mountains (the Rockies, no less), fresh air, warm summer breezes, horses and wildlife you will love Bragg Creek.  It is the gateway to Kananaskis Country which is a 4,200 sq km forestry reserve. Wildlife comes in all sizes here: grizzlies, moose, elk, deer, cougars, fox right down to the little critters such as squirrels and chipmunks.

My ‘pillow park’ for the weekend was an acreage on the edge of Bragg Creek, the rustic log home of my friends, Katherine and Ted.  As I drove up their lush driveway I was greeted enthusiastically by Indy, their 7 mos old Border Collie.

Indy, a spirited joy. He gets right into your heart.

A backyard of birch and poplar often visited by deer.

A Connie Singer Butterfly, flitted and landed on my shoulder, ring and bracelet before settling on my thumb. It sat there for the longest time. Nature is awesome.

Meadow and Strider complete this happy home.  I thought it was cool that Katherine and Ted could ride their horses into Bragg Creek if they so chose.  The property is surrounded by an abundance of trails and Elbow Creek flows alongside the road.

Meadow (appaloosa) and Strider

Strider and Meadow munching on some oats.

One evening, we decided to check out the saloon. heehaw!  Well… it was called the Powderhorn Saloon and its decor was very saloon-ish.

They have live entertainment and the night we were there, a two-man band with an East Coast sound really got our toes tapping. The menu served up classic pub food with special items such as elk and bison.  I was leaning towards the bison but chose the steak and it was a great choice. Juicy and tender.  The sambuca shots were pretty good too.

The Powderhorn Saloon, a western style bar with live music.

A few shots of Black Sambuca to celebrate Canada Day!

Considering the thumbnail size of Bragg Creek I was astonished at how many good restaurants were available.  For Sunday brunch we decided on a restaurant called Infusion which served contemporary cusine.  Definitely take the patio if you go there, the mountain air revs the appetite.  I chose an omelette stuffed with salmon and mascarpone cheese and my friend had a seafood crepe, filled with red snapper, shrimp, salmon, lobster and scallops, which she described as fresh and flavourful.

Home fries came with each dish and seriously, I could have eaten a plate of those on their own!  We also dined at the Bavarian Inn.  The food was in a word, delicious and their wine list was extensive.  Is it any wonder that I gained 5 lbs over the weekend!

Infusion’s Seafood Crepe with Home fries and fresh fruit cocktail.

At the Bavarian, we chose a 2009 Luigi Bosca Malbec with a rich wonderful body,  I loved the colour as much as the taste and it went great with veal.

  
Bavarian Inn: Homemade apple streudle

One of the highlights of this trip was horseback riding.  I love horses and used to ride a lot…when I was 12.

Now… I was trepidatious, no scared shitless! about crawling on the back of a horse.  It had been years since I had ridden and I could now only picture myself on the ground with a broken limb, but my friend, Katherine, is a superb rider and I felt confident in her horsemanship.  So off we went to a local area that is known for its trails that wend through meadows, trees and well-just awesome scenery.

The drive to our trails, note the mountains ahead.

Meadow checking me out.

Katherine and Ted unloaded the horses while I tried hard not to have to breath in a paper bag.  I had on my favourite cowboy boots and a borrowed cowboy hat and a western shirt so I could at least look the part of horsewoman.

Meadow and myself.

Then came the time to mount up.  I forgot how much effort is required to swing ones leg way the hell up and over the back of a horse. Once I was planted firmly in the saddle we started off on our little adventure.  Meadow and I  followed Katherine and Strider.   First we headed off down through the ditch and across the road into the trees.  Things were going well.  I was starting to relax.  I heard rushing water but didn’t think too much of it until I saw a small river ahead of us.  I was looking around for a bridge when I noticed  Katherine guiding Strider through the rushing water.

“Ummm. Ok, I’m not too sure about this,” I told her with a bit of a worried chuckle.  But Meadow was unconcerned as she picked her way across the rocks in the water.  Safely on the other side we continued along the path through the trees into a clearing.  Wildflowers were blooming and it was a beautiful day, sunny and warm.

Katherine commented that it would be best if we stuck to the well travelled paths.  She explained that since I was a novice rider, we didn’t want any wildlife jumping out and startling the animals.

“Uhh ok, wildlife like rabbits?”

“No, like bears but don’t worry I am keeping my eyes peeled for any signs.”

“Sure, okay…”  I was perfecting that nervous chuckle by this point.  She reassured me that we would be fine.

We strode up and down hills edged by birch trees and trailing vines.  I was getting the hang of things.  A true horsewoman.  I imagined I was an early settler mapping out new terrain through dense wilderness…although this trail was starting to get muddy.  Small rivulets were running across our path forming small puddles which were becoming larger puddles.

I watched ahead as Strider splashed through them.  Meadow had other ideas which she wasn’t sharing with me.

She jumped them!  Heehaw yikes!!

I’m sure she looked amazingly graceful.  I did not.  My hat flew off and my boots came out of the stirrups, as I bounced a foot off the saddle.  The fact that I landed back in the saddle is nothing short of a miracle.  Katherine quickly came to my aid and retrieved my hat.

“Oops, I forgot to mention that Meadow likes to jump puddles,” Katherine said, giving me one of her biggest smiles.  Then, noting my terror stricken face, she reassured me that we would walk around them for the remainder of the trip.

Apparently, Meadow would get nervous if she couldn’t see the bottom of the puddle but she was ok with tromping through mud.  After that, I watched Katherine and Strider closely and made sure that Meadow followed behind, retracing their steps.  We had to take little detours through trees. I was fine with that as long as we didn’t have to jump anything.  Of course, our luck ran out as we approached a foot-wide gully that stretched across the road.  Katherine skilfully guided Strider across and then turned to wait for me.  Meadow couldn’t contain her glee at the anticipation of jumping that gully.  That’s it- rather than fall off, I hopped down and let her jump it.  And she did with such grace and style that I almost regretted getting off.  After some effort I was back in the saddle and thrilled that we were climbing a hill which meant, YAY no more puddles.  At last we rounded a corner and were back at the river we had previously crossed. No more worries.  We made it back to camp where Ted had a tasty BBQ dinner waiting for us.  We unsaddled the horses and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

What a great day.  What a great weekend.  A big Thank You to Ted and Katherine for their wonderful hospitality and for her patience on the trail.  Needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway) I won’t be joining an Equestrian team anytime soon.

Ahhh…the Vacation ends too soon…

It’s over, winter vacation that is.  Damn, why do those weeks fly by so fast.

We packed our bags, and took a last look at the sun-soaked sands and their swaying palm trees, knowing that we were heading home to a cold Canadian January.  We stood at the airport gate waiting to board while the new arrivals disembarked from our plane to begin their vacation.  A boisterous woman with a floppy yellow sunhat and brightly-painted toes was the first through the door and couldn’t wait to give us her latest weather report, “Well folks, hope you packed your woolies because it’s -45 Celsius with the wind chill back home,” she said smugly.  Boy oh boy, do Canadians love talking about the wind chill!  Its a moot point for me since the mad dash I make between home and car, then car and work negate any effects of wind chill.  I simply move too fast to experience it. hah.

However, record-breaking frigid weather did welcome us home.  Luckily we hadn’t bothered to park at the airport, which would have meant waiting for the car to warm up before heading off; instead we had a taxi pick us up and made two important pit stops on the way home, one for milk and the other for beer.

Nestled near the warmth of our fireplace, we reflected back on our two week all-inclusive Mexican vacation, in the Mayan Riviera.  We had stayed at the Riu Playacar in the Playacar complex (a gated community) next to the town of Playa Del Carmen.  This hotel was attended by a variety of nationalities:Argentinian, Brazilian, Portuguese, Russian, German, British, Canadian and a few Americans.  Obviously, English was not the major language spoken although most could speak some.

We spent the first few days sunning on our hotel beach…

The ocean was red flagged for part of the week due to strong undertows. The remainder of the time we had a yellow flag so we could swim with care and found the water warm and clear with a sandy bottom .

 

There were a few beach venders but they were no bother at all as they simply walked past with their wares displayed on their arms.  I even bought three silver bracelets.

We had access to three other Riu hotels in our vicinity and we spend a lot of time at the Riu Tequila (across the street, two hotels over) for their nightly shows and entertainment.

We also checked out the Riu Yucatan, a much larger hotel also located on the beach but with impressive jungle type grounds.

In addition to monkeys that we never did see, they had wild critters running around the resort which were fun to watch. They were friendly and not adverse to a handout.

One hot and muggy afternoon, had we not heeded the sky we would have been caught in a torrential downpour that lasted the rest of the afternoon, all night and for most of the next day.

When the rain finally let up, it was still breezy so we headed into Playa del Carmen to check out 5th avenue; a busy touristy shopping strip running several blocks through town.  Venders tried to entice, barter and plead us into their shops which all carried similar souvenirs such as: t-shirts, beaded necklaces, magnets, colorful blankets, bowls, etc.

My husband was asked several times if he wanted to buy cigars or something sweeter.  He declined both offers.  The huskers did not bother us as we’ve dealt with more aggressive venders in other countries.  We just said ‘No Gracias’ and moved on.

One night, we ate dinner, just off 5th Ave., at a Canadian-owned bar called Los Tabernacos; they had a big screen television so we watched the World Juniors hockey game between Russia and Canada (in French, since the owner was from Quebec).  We had hamburger steak with poutine, which was great and chilled Dos Equis beer. Great hospitality and it was all priced reasonably.  It felt strange eating poutine in Mexico but damn it was good.

We also took a taxi, 30 miles South to Akumal to snorkel, which is a fabulous location to see Sea turtles (say that 5 times fast).  They nest there and the water was so clear and calm that you could see fish without stepping a foot in the water. The photos below was taken with my cell phone above the water. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an underwater camera.

I was thrilled to see a turtle the size of a coffee table as well as a two little ones feeding on the bottom.   A stingray, the length of my body, surprised me with its gracefulness.

There were a few restaurants on the beach and we were able to rent a life vest for the day for $5.00 from a local dive shop.  You could also rent full gear if you chose to, in addition to diving lessons.  Showers and lockers were available.  We enjoyed our time there so much that we went twice.

A Taxi was 250 pesos from Playacar to Akumal and 300 pesos return.  (~$50.00round trip)  We could have also taken a collectivo (local bus) for 35 pesos but the heat made us happy with our choice.   The exchange rate as of early January 2012 was 13 pesos to the US dollar and about 12.6 to the Cdn.

Overall, it was a great vacation.

For dollar value one cannot beat the prices offered by these All-Inclusive vacations and they are great for a week away.  However, we always go for two-week stints, and usually by day 10 we are tired of having every meal with 500 other people. So…next time we will bypass the All-Inclusive vacation for something with a bit more flexibility.

But really we can’t complain as the alternative to going somewhere warm is viewed from our backyard.

Vacation, vacation, vacation!

Yay!  Our winter vacation is booked.  We finally decided on Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  We just couldn’t pass up the superb flight times.   We fly from Edmonton at 10AM and will be making our way through the Cancun airport by 4PM.  Other destinations from here require early morning flights, as well as, an overnight in Toronto or Montreal, using up two days of precious vacation time.  And I know that after spending an hour shoveling the driveway the other night,

I am ready for some R&R in a warm, sunny destination.

I have been to Playa Del Carmen once before with my best friend, Liz, for her 50th birthday.  We had a blast and formed many lasting memories.  One of which still cracks us both up, well her anyway, when we speak of it. 

Since, Liz was excited to swim with the dolphins we embarked on an all-day excursion to Xel-Ha.  Xel-Ha is an eco-park where you can snorkel, swim with dolphins, manatees or just explore the meandering paths.  There is also a lazy river to float on. 

The most popular attraction was the Dolphin swimming encounter.  We did it and it was cool but I have to admit I was bothered by their captivity, such fascinating creatures, but they did seem well looked after. 

  

Following that and a few refreshments we headed off to the lazy river.    Our valuables were locked up in a compartment for safe keeping and we donned life jackets.  The idea was to drift on an inner tube, guided by gentle currents through fresh spring waters and exotic mangroves, the kilometer back to our starting point.  Sounded wonderful.

We could choose either a single tube or a tandem one.  We went with the tandem.

I was to get in first, well, as I have mentioned in my previous post I am a woman of substantial height, and not exactly a lightweight either, especially compared to my featherweight friend.

The tube, sitting on a small sloped dock, seemed slimy and a little slippery; the petite Mexican woman, who was aiding us, assured me that she would hold it while I got on. (let me just say, that I was wearing my new blue sunglasses and a smashing new blue sunhat).  As she held on to one side, I positioned myself over the hole in the tube and eased my butt down. 

Whooshh!!  The tube slipped from her grip flipping me backwards over the dock with my butt firmly entrenched in the middle of the tube.  I did a complete underwater summersault,  with tube attached and then bobbed up with my sunglasses still on.  My hat, however, was floating down the river. A gallant Mexican worker jumped in to retrieve it and laughed heartily as he handed it over to me.

As I sputtered in disbelief, Liz and the young Mexican woman were also doubled over in laughter.  Yeah,  I’m sure it must have looked hil-ar-ious. 

Anyway, since I was already in the water, Liz decided to just climb up on her side of the tube.  I started to paddle my hands in the river to move us along but noticed that we were going in circles.  I glanced over at Liz and saw that she wasn’t helping, not because she wouldn’t…but she couldn’t.  My heavier side had suspended her out of the water so that only her toes were in the river, and only if she stretched out could her fingertips brush the water’s surface.   I was on my own for the paddling. 

I pointed towards shore and commented to Liz that we seemed to be gathering spectators and they were taking photos!  We laughed that whole kilometer back or rather Liz did as I had to use all my energy for paddling in a straight line.

One thing I know for sure, on this trip there will be no floating down any lazy river.  Unless it involves a boat and cocktails! 

Surely these things don’t just happen to me; what kind of crazy things have happened to you whilst on vacation?

It’s that time of year.

It’s Halloween.  Yesterday my husband spent hours raking leaves and clearing away dead foliage preparing for winter.  So far, the weather has been sunny and warm..but it’s coming…. oh yes it is.  Oh Winter- scraping icy windshields, shoveling snow and maneuvering snowdrifted roads. Yep, it’s coming. 

My favorite thing about winter is that we go somewhere warm.  Two glorious weeks spent on a sandy beach, somewhere warm.  Ahhhh, nothing like a cold beer in the hand and the sound of surf.  Did I mention somewhere warm?  You get the picture.  Part of the fun is finding that place in the sun.  Every year we, which really means I, sort through different beach destinations such as Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.  Since the husband is not an adventurous diner we stay at All-Inclusives that are close to towns and then use the resort as a base to travel around and explore the local areas. 

Last year we went to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.  They are famous for powder soft, bleached-white beaches and the resort we stayed at did not disappoint.  On one especially hot and humid aftenoon, we took a long walk down the beach and came to a outdoor bar/restaurant called the Tiki.  We decided to stop for a Presidente, their national beer.  We grabbed our beers and sat at a small table to watch the surf wash up on the beach.  It was getting to be late afternoon and besides the bartender, we were the only ones there.  Of course, it wasn’t long before I needed the bano so off I went. 

The bathroom, which was located in a smaller building adjacent to the bar, had two stalls, which were enclosed in a slightly larger room that also had a locking door.  I closed that door, my first mistake.  The second mistake was entering the first tiny, dingy stall-overflowing, blecck!  The third was trying to turn on the taps to wash my hands. Only a trickle, thank god for hand sanitizer.  Then, I reached for the door handle (with two fingers) and watched as the handle just spun around. Crap!  Trapped! 

Suddenly, the bathroom walls seemed to squeeze in on me.  I pounded on the door and yelled at the top of my lungs, but with the loud outdoor music my frantic calls went unanswered. Surely someone would be coming- then I remembered that the only one sitting at the bar was my husband. Sweat beaded on my forehead.  Its true what they say, the senses become more acute in times of stress… at least my sense of smell did!  With the humidity only emphasizing the stale urine and deodorizer, I started to gag.   I looked around and noticed that there was a shuttered window above the sink. It had a tiny latch.  Hmmm…  I reached up and pried the rusty hinge open. The shutters flung to the outside.  Thankfully it was a double shutter, large enough to fit my near 6ft frame.  I hopped up on the sink, (made of sturdy cement) hoisted myself out the window and dropped down into an alley.  I made my way back around to the front of the bar.  My husband looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked me what had took so long!  seriously???  We had a good laugh later.    

So one thing I will add to my travel to-do list for this year is- note possible escape routes prior to bathroom use!!

Hmm… Roatan, Honduras looks good.