A Shift In Gears

It’s been a busy six months and we’ve got some adventures  to add to the blog; but today, I’m going to shift gears a bit and post about a writer’s challenge I’m involved with.

Over at Writer’s Digest’s ‘There Are No Rules’ blog, Robert Lee Brewer has issued an October Writer’s Platform Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to help writers and authors improve their writer’s platform (a group of activities geared toward getting our names and work out to the public.

Today’s challenge is to write a blog entry about the challenge. So here goes…

As those of you who have read by blog entries in the past know, this has been essentially a travel blog. First, let me thank all of you who’ve read and commented on the site.

Pssst…can you keep a secret? It’s really a writer’s blog.

My blog posts have been a way for me tell a little bit about some of the places we’ve visited as well as some of the cool activities. But it’s also been a way for me to refine my writing skills.

I hope you don’t mind.

With that being said, I’m shifting gears a bit on this ole blogaroo. I’ll keep posting about the places we’ve visited and our activities, but I’ll also throw in a few things of interest beyond just basic travel. Once in awhile I’ll post about a novel to read on a sunny beach or a great “how to” book on getting inexpensive airfare.

Just a few things to spice things up and give you food for thought.

So there you have it; the little secret about my blog.

You can look forward to my next post on our trip to Teton Village this summer and our first experience with AirBnB. And you can look forward to a bit more beyond travel in the coming posts.

Remember, life’s a journey, not a destination.




Death Valley Spring

Death Valley Spring
Death Valley Spring

Jeremiah took off his wide-brimmed hat and wiped his brow. According to the map in his hand hell wasn’t too far past the next ridge.

Death Valley. He and his small band of pioneers had heard the horror stories from the few others they’d met along the way. They were faced with miles of unbearable heat and no water for days. The trail marked with skeletons of both man and beast.

They were the lucky ones, the dead or the folks they’d met heading east. Jeremiah and his family were westbound; heading for the promise of California. They’d filled up every cask, bottle, and canteen they owned at the springs in the valley the Spanish traders called Las Vegas. Fortunately they’d been able to top off in the mountain springs to the west of the meadows. Continue reading

Cruisin’ to Alaska!

Cruisin’ to Alaska

Welcome Aboard the Norwegian Jewel
Welcome Aboard the Norwegian Jewel

The sun warms us as we exit the dining room to eat out on the fantail. Not too windy and the view of the mountains makes this a venue that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship, Norwegian Jewel, is making its way up the inner passage bound for adventure along the Alaska panhandle. It’s just the start of a seven-day journey that gives us the opportunity to explore one of America’s last frontiers.

Your itinerary reads like a history of the Alaskan Gold Rush. Depart from Seattle, Washington the stepping off point for thousands of stampeders headed for the Klondike Gold fields in the late part of the 19th century. A day at sea and into the inner passage for Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway.

You’ll spend a day at sea exploring the ship. Seas are generally pretty calm this time of year and the gyro stabilization of the ship helps to assure a smooth ride.

Martini's Anyone? Shaken, not stirred.
Martini’s Anyone? Shaken, not stirred.

What to do, what to do? The ship offers 13 bars and lounges, several fine restaurants, such as the Cagney’ Steakhouse, I personally recommend this one. If you plan to attend on of the specialty restaurants you’ll want to make reservations for the evening. In the mean time, the ship’s activity director offers several classes offered. Activities such as wine tasting, photography classes, and how to buy original art are just a few.

If you’re the physical type why not pop upstairs for a quick run on the treadmill in the health center followed by a Swedish massage in the spa?

Oh, and if you brought the kids, they’ll enjoy the heated pool and activities such as Nickelodeon™ At Sea.

There’s literally something for everyone!

Lunch is buffet style if you go to the main dining room and that’s why we decided to eat out on the fantail. Rumor has it we may have the opportunity to see some whales.

Our first stop will be tomorrow at Ketchikan, Alaska, home of the Alaska’s salmon fishing fleet. We’ve pre-booked Allen Marine’s Whale Watching and Wildlife Quest, through NCL’s excursion office, so if we happen to see a few whales at lunch it’ll be a bonus!

Walk with a View!
Walk with a View!

After lunch you can take a nice walk along the promenade deck to burn off the all-you can eat meal. The food at the dining room is tasty, abundant, and quite good…so if you’re trying to lose weight or watch your figure…be careful!

If you’re a gambler and the ship is out in international waters gaming will be available. Everything from slot machines to poker, to blackjack are available…do you feel lucky?

Norwegian Cruise Lines is the third cruise company we’ve had the pleasure of dealing with and the second company we’ve used for an Alaskan cruise. Our experience was all we’ve come to expect from any cruise line—and more!

We’ve learned it’s the ship’s company, the people, which make a difference. We were very impressed with all the crewmembers we had the pleasure to work with on the Norwegian Jewel. If we seemed lost or confused crewmembers would immediately ask if we needed help and point us in the right direction.

Bunny Rabbit Welcoming Us Back to Our Cabin
Bunny Rabbit Welcoming Us Back to Our Cabin

Our cabin attendant was always willing to go the extra mile. I bought the romance package to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary, and our attendant made the presentations special and remembered.

We booked our travel through our time-share, Diamond Resorts International and used our annual points to pay for an exciting, memorable trip. You can book your Alaskan trip through your travel agent or directly by going to www.ncl.com. If you’ve never cruised or never been to Alaska, this is a great place to start!

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room

Starbucks Reserve
Starbucks Reserve

Now I have to admit I’m a bit of a coffee junkie. Probably not to the extent of my friend Nick Usborne owner and operator of The Coffee Detective website (www.coffeedetective.com); but I do like my coffee.

Over New Years we visited family in the Seattle/Tacoma area, you know, home of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best. I believe it’s also ground zero for America’s surge in coffee bars and specialty brands. I’m serious; you can’t drive two blocks without seeing a Starbucks Coffee or at least some kind of coffee hut. Continue reading

7 Safe and Secure Travel Tips

7 Safe and Secure Travel Tips

In light of recent events in Paris I thought I’d give you a couple of travel safety tips.

But before I begin I’d like to express my sadness and grief for the families and friends of all the innocent lives lost to fanatics in France recently. Our hearts and prayers go out to them and as a blogger and journalist I’d like to stand up and say today:

Je Suis Charlie!


They say the world can be a dangerous place, and while I have to agree it CAN be a dangerous place, I believe most of the world is a marvelous adventure. Continue reading

Go Back Into Time at the Boeing Museum of Flight

Go Back into Time at the Boeing Museum of Flight

Me109 (1 of 1)
Me 109

Stepping through the doors is as if stepping through a portal back into time. Surrounded by fighter aircraft from a bygone era you wander among Spitfires, Messerschmitts, Thunderbolts and Lightning. You rub elbows, so to speak, heroes: Robert Scott of the Flying Tigers, Douglas Bader the legless fighter pilot from Britain, Gabby Gabreski and ace in two wars, and Chuck Yeager, once the fastest man in the world. Continue reading

Anniversary Narrows Trail-A Hike Through History and Beauty

Anniversary Narrows Trail-A Hike Through History and Beauty

Slot Canyon-Anniversary Narrows
Slot Canyon-Anniversary Narrows

The sandstone walls tower above us. We can reach out a foot or so on either side of us and touch the canyon walls. A gravel stream bed makes walking easy until we get to the next set of boulders. A bit of finesse, a little help from our REI walking sticks, and we’re up and over. Bella our puggel has no problem making the jump and for a little dog she’s doing just fine in the slot canyon.

Anniversary Narrows is a slot canyon hike located East of Las Vegas near Lake Mead that promises a bit of history, plenty of geology and just plain kick-butt views.

Slot canyons are narrow canyons formed by water rushing through rock. The desert southwest in the United States is peppered with slot canyons. In fact, Utah and Arizona are famous for several beautiful and claustrophobic examples. These canyons are significantly deeper than they are wide and since many are cut out of sandstone the views inside can be rather spectacular. Continue reading