New Mexico Road Trip Part 2 – Found Treasures

Road trips bring me up close and personal with the many treasures that I would  otherwise miss looking down from an airplane at 35,000 feet, like…

local wildlife.

Deer

stepping over the state line.
Welcome to New Mexico

unusual art that makes me smile.

Metal Giraffes

places with a lot to say.

Hollywood Rejects

a sight for sore eyes.

Eyes Graffiti

“moo”ving moments.

Lone Cow

We even saw a road runner, but it was too quick to capture on camera. What’s better than a road trip? A road trip with plenty of time to stop to appreciate those magical moments.

Enjoy!

New Mexico Road Trip Part 1 – White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

It was still dark on Saturday morning when I picked up my friend Emelyn and all her photography equipment and started the long drive. We were meeting a small group of photographers down in Alamogordo, New Mexico to visit White Sands National Monument.

I love road trips.

We started in Denver, which is a large and very busy city. The metropolitan area stretches almost twenty miles and after that there are very few sections of Interstate 25 where you won’t see at least one house or in the distance for the next hour and a half drive. It’s a beautiful area of the country and we have the Rocky Mountains that stand as sentinels overlooking the front range.

After the almost constant presence of people in Colorado along I-25, it was fascinating drive for hours without seeing any indication of people except for fences on the long stretch of roadway. The countryside is arid and filled with the shorter piñon pines, yucca plants and grasses moving in the wind. New Mexico has its own unique beauty of simplicity and shadow.

After a brief stop in Sante Fe, we finished the long drive and checked into the White Sands Motel. Sunset was still more than an hour away and we didn’t waste time headed to the White Sands National Monument. One word…INCREDIBLE!

I’ll be adding more updates and photos over the next week.

Sisters’ Trip Update – New England It Is

New England  Lighthouse
The results are in!

Thank you for all of your input and votes. My sisters and I are headed to the New England area for our sisters’ trip. Now we just need to decide on our itinerary and what areas we will be traveling.

The initial plan is to fly into Boston or Bangor, rent a car and then drive through a number of states. Each one of us is going to pick two places we want to see and then we’ll set up the schedule. From lighthouses, to specific towns, covered bridges and a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour, we’ve already received some great suggestions from those who recommended New England.

Being landlocked in Colorado, the a visit to the Atlantic Ocean is a definite. The rest will develop as we select our must sees. We are still intending to try to keep to our budget of $500 each, not including airfare. I’m finding that renting a car at one airport and dropping it off at another adds to the expense, so we’ll see what discounts are available.

Travel Budget Plan

  1. Do our research on places to stay and book in advance
  2. Select B&B’s, motels or hotels that serve breakfast and are not in the costly city centers
  3. Buy a cheap cooler when we arrive and fill it with snacks so we can limit our eating out
  4. Select and budget in the key places we want to see and then fill in with low cost or free places to visit
  5. Rent a small car that gets better gas mileage, but is still comfortable enough for three people and luggage
  6. Utilize discounts that may be available to us: senior discounts, AAA, online booking

If there is anyone who can spot a discount, it’s Wendy. I know she is already on the hunt. Do you have any tips that you use to stay on a travel budget?

In Other Travel News:

I’m headed to White Sands National Monument  in New Mexico this weekend with a small group of my photographer friends. When they say “white sands” they mean it. What a beautiful place. I can’t wait to share the pictures.

With my trip to Namibia less than two months away, I visited the Global Travel Clinic and recieved one shot in each arm yesterday afternoon. One to prevent Typhoid and the other Hepatitis A. Ouch! I have a couple prescriptions to fill, including anti-malaria pills, Cipro and motion sickness prevention patches. Planning continues…

Sisters’ Trip Update – Submit Your Vote

Travel Destination copyHere’s your chance to vote on the destination for our sisters’ trip!

First, all the suggestions were submitted.

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure
Get Your Travel Agent Hat On – Sisters’ Vacation Update

Then, we narrowed the choices to three destinations.

Sisters’ Trip Update – The Destination Finalists

And now, we’re eagerly awaiting your vote.

[yop_poll id=”2″]

The poll is only open for one week, so vote early.

Sisters’ Travel Update – The Destination Finalists

Many of you suggested destinations for our sisters’ trip scheduled later this year. We received an incredible list of proposed destinations. Curious as to the results? My sister, Wendy and I, have recorded our very first video in order to provide an update.

Listen closely to discover the three destinations we have chosen as finalists.

So what’s next? Your vote!

Later this week I’ll be adding a poll so everyone can vote on one of our top three final destinations and everyone who participates will help decide where we’ll be traveling. Once the selection is complete, we’ll start the process of planning and report back on the journey every step of the way. Remember, all of you are making the final decision. We will not be voting.

Thank you for playing. We’re looking forward to our trip.

Related Posts:

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure
Get Your Travel Agent Hat On -Sisters’ Vacation Update

Sharing Incredible Moments

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take,
but by the moments that take your breath away.  

Unknown Author

We were up early and after a quick snack at Little Vumbura, we took a short boat ride and then climbed into our vehicle for an early morning safari. Just a few miles down the road, our guide gestured toward the ground and pointed out lion tracks. My heart began to beat a little faster. I checked my camera once again just to make sure everything was in order.

AfricaChief

A few hours later, we were still looking. We had seen so many incredible things, but none of the elusive cats. Chief, our guide, looked at his watch and suggested it was time to go back to camp for brunch.

AfricaImpala

 “Can we try a little longer, please? We didn’t come here to eat, we came to see wildlife.”

I’m not quite sure who said it, but everyone nodded their agreement. Chief just smiled and kept driving. Around the next curve was a herd of Cape Buffalo, one of them with a fresh wound on its’ hindquarters. We were close. Let me just say, Cape Buffalo are huge and incredibly intimidating. I could have watched them for hours, but we had lions waiting for us.

Cape Buffalo

A few turns later, and there they were. A pride of nine lions sleeping in the road. One of the females lifted her head briefly as we came around the corner, looked at us and went back to sleep. Talk about a moment that took my breath away…they were magnificent and we were within twenty feet of them.  It’s a moment I will never forget.

Lions

That was ten years ago and I still clearly remember the feeling of disbelief and gratitude that I was in Botswana, on a warm African morning, watching lions sleep.

AfricaLion

I have plenty of pictures and I have described that moment to people in my life. It doesn’t matter how detailed I am with my words or how many photos I share, none of them can imagine the magic of that moment. Someday soon, I’m going to take my sisters and my son to Africa. Instead of trying to describe the indescribable, I’ll going to enjoy watching them experience the moment for themselves. It’s something so special that I need to share it with them.

What moment in your life has taken your breath away? If you could, who would you share it with?

Travel Trippin’

travel to Namibia
I’m infected. It began in 2000, when my neighbors pulled out a brochure on the World’s Fair in Hanover, Germany and invited me to go along. I applied for my first passport and packed my bags. It didn’t take long to be bitten by the travel bug and…you know what happens when that occurs. The only way to keep it under control is to feed it. So each year, I’m planning a big trip and several small ones.

The BIG Trip:

The Fed Ex package packed full of all the final details came earlier this week. I completed the remaining forms, made the final payment and mailed everything back to the Africa Adventure Company. My trip to Namibia is PAID IN FULL.

Why Namibia? I knew I wanted to go back to the African continent. I traveled to the southern part of South Africa and the area around the Okavanga Delta in Botswana ten years ago. It was incredible and someday I’ll visit again. But this trip, I want to see other parts of Africa. Namibia offers such diverse environments and a chance to see white rhinos, desert adapted elephants and other fascinating wildlife.

Here’s the sample itinerary:

Great Namibian Journey Group Safari

I’ll be taking about my planning process as the trip gets closer. Check back for updates.

The SISTERS Trip:

Planning for the trip with my sister, Wendy, is ongoing with all of your great suggestions. We are so excited. We have decided to move the trip to September so we miss some of the crowds.

Here are the original options:

  • Find an event we want to attend, like a concert, and make a trip out of it.
  • Several locations in North Carolina, including the outer banks and South Port
  • Hawaii
  • Puerta Vallarta
  • Tahiti or other Caribbean Cruise
  • Alaska Cruise
  • New England road trip, possibly including Maine
  • Guatemala

We’re adding a few new destinations from your comments last week.

  • One of my favorite nieces suggested the area around Eureka Springs, Arkansas
  • Kirstin from KidsAreATrip: Flagstaff or the Sedona area of Arizona or Puerto Rico
  • Carol Cassara: A road trip in southern Florida down through the Keys

I’ve begun preliminary reviews of some of the locations. It may be difficult to stay within our $1,000 budget (not including airfare), but we’re going to give it a shot. Next week, we’ll narrow down our choices a little and then put the numbers and options together.

So that’s how my travel plans are lining up. What’s on your vacation agenda?

Previous posts:

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure

Get Your Travel Agent Hat on- Sister’s Vacation Update 

Get Your Travel Agent Hat On – Sisters’ Vacation Update

vacation

I’m not sure what kind of hats all of you were wearing, but many budding travel agents responded to last week’s request for help planning our sisters’ vacation trip. Thanks! Let me back up and give you a quick overview.

My sister Wendy and I, and possibly our older sister Mary, have decided we need something to look forward to after all this frigid weather. Here’s a link to the post, Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure, so you can get a little more background.

The parameters:

  • Budget of $500 each
  • Five day trip
  • Someplace off the beaten path (Wendy)
  • No strict agenda (Wendy and Jennifer)
  • Someplace that is or has an unexpected surprise (Wendy)
  • Things to do besides sit on a beach (Jennifer)
  • Wonderful places and people to photograph (Jennifer)
  • Costs for airfare and souvenirs are in addition to the stated budget

The current fabulous results:

  • Kate from Another Clean Slate: Schedule the trip around a fun event. Kate is headed to West Palm Beach to see Jimmy Buffett. He’s on tour in a number of locations this year.
  • My friend Shelly Dennis, a fellow stock photographer: South Port, North Carolina, with all it’s history, an aquarium and beaches.
  • Michelle from Getting Literal: Hawaii. Is there anything else to say about the draw of this location?
  • Kristi from Finding Ninee: Puerto Vallarta or another location in Mexico or the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
  • Mike from Past My Curfew: Cruise to Tahiti. (If we end up doing this, Mike, you are welcome to join us.)
  • Diane from On the Border: She and her husband have scheduled an Alaskan cruise for $550.
  • Clark from the Wakefield Doctrine: My friend from New England recommends a road trip through that beautiful area of the country.
  • Dana from Kiss My List: Small towns in Southern Maine, including Wells.
  • Chris from The Mom Cafe:  Caribbean cruise.
  • Aussa from AussaLorens.com: Guatemala.

Wow! Wendy and I are excited about all the possibilities, especially since we’ve never been to any of those places. Over the couple of months, we’ll be researching all of these destinations and any new ones that get added. In April, we’ll narrow it down to three and all of you will select where we’ll be headed, possibly sometime this summer. Can we do it on our budget? I’m not sure, but we’re going to give it a good try.

Thanks to all of you who have already made suggestions and those of you who offered encouragement. But we aren’t done yet. We still have several weeks to add more possibilities to the mix before we narrow it down for your vote. 

Any other suggestions?

Help Two Sisters Looking For Adventure

Freezing Cold

The telephone rang early yesterday morning.

Me: “Hmrrr….mrmmrh….mellow?”
Wendy:  “I c-c-c-can’t handle this any…more!”
Me: “Hmmmm?” 
Wendy: “It’s 11 degrees below zero….”

Her teeth were chattering so loudly, I had to move the phone away from my ear.

It has been a very cold winter in Denver just like most areas of the country. We’re 11 degrees below zero while Sochi, Russia, home of the Winter Olympics, is in the 40’s.

After I finally woke up enough to have a semi-intelligent discussion with my sister, we decided we needed to take a trip someplace fun in the next four or five months….some place we can look forward to during this freezing weather. But…where?

There are so many incredible places to go that we don’t even know exist. How do we make the most of our travel budget and still experience a great adventure? We decided to ask the experts…all of you. Can you help us?

Here are the parameters:

  • Budget of $1,000 or $500 each
  • Five day trip
  • Someplace off the beaten path (Wendy)
  • No strict agenda (Wendy and Jennifer)
  • Someplace that is or has an unexpected surprise (Wendy)
  • Things to do besides sit on the beach (Jennifer)
  • Wonderful places and people to photograph (Jennifer)

Airfare and souvenir shopping will be considered extra, so those costs will be in addition to our $1,000 budget. Other than that, everything will be included: meals, rental car (if needed), lodging, tolls, etc.

Not only will we be selecting a place out of those you suggest, we’ll be blogging about our trip, including budget updates and photographs, so you can follow us every step of the way. We plan to travel in late June or early July. Please comment and leave any links you think will be helpful for us to see. Each week, we’ll summarize the suggestions and let you know how things are going.

In April, we’ll narrow the list down to the final three. Then, everyone can vote later in the month and we’ll travel to the destination chosen by all of you. We’ll even send a postcard to everyone who suggested a viable destination and a souvenir to the person who recommended the location we visit. (excludes spammers)

Wendy and I know of a few places, but all of you know thousands. We are eagerly looking forward to your ideas. Please help us expand our search for the perfect sister’s trip destination by sharing this post with friends who may have great recommendations, too.

In the Midst of Manmade Magic

FloridaPineBlog

Hidden treasures in the midst of man made magic
Yellow butterflies lead the way
In solitude I walk between
Fields of palmettos, dotted with occasional pines

A path, leading into the forest of trees
Anticipation, seeking something new
Alone with myself
Taking it all in, seeing, watching

CyprusTreeBlog
Cyprus trees with skirts of roots sink down into the water
Securing them to reflections of blue sky
And of puffy white clouds and dancing grasses of green and yellow
Upside down world…silence punctuated with the occasional buzz of insects

Nature taking it’s course in the midst of man made magic
Drinking in moist warm air as smooth as a fine wine
Time to think and observe
Eagerly discovering, exploring

A walk in a new place
No people, no wildlife, just me 
Breathing in and out moving on the path
Until the end, the perfect place to sit

Nature Conservancy
Rocking back and forth in a chair
Cool breeze weeps away the heat of the midday journey
Happy to discover another world
In the midst of man made magic

My last day in Orlando, I decided to get off the beaten path. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love castles, princes and life sized cartoon characters and will visit them another time. Instead, at the suggestion of a Florida friend, I visited the Nature Conservatory’s Disney Wildlife Preserve. My favorite part was Lake Russell and the cyprus trees that rise up out of the water. The path is a little over 2 miles long and a wonderful option if you are interested in a break from the parks. It’s also free unless you choose to make a donation.

I suggest going early in the day so you have an opportunity to see the wildlife. Take water and good walking shoes. The path is clear, level and easy to follow. It was a great choice for me since it was a new slice of nature I’d never seen before.

Happy travels!