Category Archives: travel

My Top Five Travel Destination Wish List

Back in July, one of the business coaches I follow wrote a post about her top five travel destinations.  I’ve been sitting around pondering this since then.  Right now, with the mere thought of school starting up again shortly (and no, I haven’t yet written my syllabus thankyouverymuch), I’d be happy to go anywhere nice – no, Fresno didn’t count – for a weekend away.  I’m not picky though, I’d even be happy to go somewhere in October if we can’t squeeze it in right now.


Then again, I’m really missing my friends back in Albuquerque.  More so now that I’ve been working their websites and helping them get their social media on.  In that case, I’d also be thrilled to set up a quick business trip (and have the chance to enjoy some green chile again).  I’ve decided set that one in motion and am using the network of my friends, to help to arrange a group that’s up for a training.  So I see that one happening within the next month or so.

But on top of my simple requests to go anywhere, here are my current top five, dream vacations (in no particular order)…


Greek Isles

I fell in love with Greece back when I was in high school.  After my graduation, I was lucky enough to enjoy 24 days in 13 countries.  Yes, it was a whirlwind trip, but I did get to spend 2 or 3 nights on the tiny island of Hydra and really fell in love.  Well we may have had bed bugs (and I still bear the scars from them), the island itself was glorious.  I’ve been dying to go back ever since.  And I’m sure this time, I won’t get quite so drunk on the Ouzo (hey, I was 17!)



When we were planning our honeymoon five years ago, this was my dream honeymoon.  With a workaholic husband, it was perfect to imagine him having to be unplugged and away from work the entire time.  Plus, that glorious, blue-green water and those grass huts right over the water.  Talk about romantic.  This was what I wanted.  And still, this is what I want….nothing but water, sun (sunscreen), a good book or three, and my husband in a hammock and I’ll be fine.  Really, what more could you ask for out of a vacation?



I’ll be honest, until I started watching Spain: On the Road Again on PBS, I never really had much of a desire to see Spain outside of visiting with a dear friend (and former teaching colleague).  Now that I’ve seen the entire country through the eyes of Gwyneth, Mario, Bittman and Claudia (and my friend’s photos and stories) I want to see it all!  And I want that manchego and Rioja.  And windmills, I want to see those windmills.  And in the meantime, I’d get to visit with a dear friend.  A perfect vacation in my mind.



Amsterdam was one of the countries I was lucky enough to visit in my whirlwind European trip back in the late 80’s.  There was something about it that I loved.  The canals, the small feel in a big city. The crazy nightlife…all of it works.  Then there are the museums (Anne Frank’s attic hideaway is mind blowing to witness in person).  This time around though, I’d like to also step out and see a the countryside.   Again, the windmills draw me in.  And who wouldn’t love to see tulips for miles?



This has been on my must travel list since I was in 4th or 5th grade.  I remember learning about the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World in social studies.  And while I just now realized that Machu Picchu is not actually on this list, for some reason, it was during this time that I first learned about it.  And ever since then, I’ve wanted to go.  Sadly, my teaching friend (the one that now lives in Spain) once lived and taught in Lima, Peru as well, but I wasn’t able to visit her.  I swore that I’d max out my credit cards if I could just get myself there.  Unfortunately, I was in grad school and my credit cards were already maxed out.

What’s on your list?  Where would you love to go for the first time or revisit if you could go anywhere in the world?

So This is What Cows Smell Like


So today we’re hanging out in Fresno for a business meeting.  Or I should say, the pups and I are hanging out at the local hotel and the hubs is having a business meeting.  Sadly, I didn’t do all too much research into this hotel.  Let me just say, I never thought anyone would ever put a hotel quite so close to a cow factory farm.  Luckily, the windows are all sealed up and all is good

I used to see clients out in Tulare, you’d think I’d remember what cows smell like. And well, let me just say, it’s not the most pleasant aroma around.  And it’s even worse still when you add in the crazy heat of the Central Valley.  Cow farm scent + 100+ degrees heat and yowza!  I have to say, I do get a kick out of the dog perking up his lazy, little head at every farm we passed along the way.

So now I’m sitting her in my room service-less room waiting on my dinner delivery.  You’d think with this being a college town and the 10 or so fast food restaurants right outside, I’d have more choices for  delivery.  Nope.  If I didn’t have the pupster with me, I wouldn’t worry and would just walk to something.  But I can’t leave him alone in the room and I don’t want to walk him out there.  So here I wait for my delivery while watching bad, Friday TV.

Lucky for me, I was smart enough to pack some bubbles for a bath later and some Smirnoff cooler thingies.  Might not be such a bad trip…I mean, we have nice, chilly AC.  And that alone is an improvement over staying back in the LA area.

It makes me wonder…do you travel for business?  What do you do or bring with you, to make your hotel stay more enjoyable?

Two Cars in One Day…



Okay, it’s now 1:30 AM Friday and I just got home from both cars officially dying and getting left behind in West LA at a shop we know nothing about. Thing is, my personal car issues seemed to begin around 2:00PM Thursday. And that migraine that started brewing around 2:00PM today, yeah, you guessed it, it’s throbbing like a beast now.

So the short version of my day…I was doing laundry and running errands when my car’s check engine light came on. It appears that the car overheated (who knows how many times in the past couple of weeks) to the point that I was out of coolant.

I was lucky enough to finish the laundry and head home. The goal was to drop my car off at our regular car guy once the hubs got home. Well, the real goal of the day was to write up a Blogger Prom recap, but that never happened.

So I finally calm down, cool off and relax. I’m waiting on the hubs to get home and we were going to head out for sushi. He calls me on his way home and as he makes the turn off Sunset onto Bev Glen, he says his car just died.

He calls AAA and they estimate that to tow the car over the hill into the Valley to our car guy in Burbank, that it will cost about $80. The guys suggests a shop on Pico that a lot of the UCLA students use. So the hubs now needs me to take my car (you know the one that overheated earlier in the day) to pick him up in West LA.

Okay, I’ll be on freeway, it’s 9:00ish, so no traffic. I won’t overheat. I make it to the Pico exit and I see the smoke coming off my engine. We figure if we take it slow and avoid the hills, that we can make it home or at least closer to home so the tow won’t cost as much to get it to Burbank.

Nice try.

A friend came out and agreed to follow us home to make sure we were good. Well, we only made it 6.6 miles, stopping once to water down the radiator and top off the (now, non-existent) coolant. We figured we were now 6.6 miles closer to home, so again, a less expensive tow.

Again, nice try.

Turns out we were now 7 miles FURTHER from home than we were before, so the tow would cost more.

So back, to where this all got fun…the garage where the hubby’s car is sitting and waiting. So basically, four or so hours after the hubs called me to get him…and a (pre-tip) $88 cab ride, I’m home eating cold pizza and waiting for my migraine meds to kick in.

Seriously, both cars have challenges on the same day?!?! What the hell? I mean, I’m all for “everything happens for a reason” so I’m just chomping at the bit to figure out what this “reason” must be.

The good news…it all could have been so much worse. If I had driven to Blogger Prom last night, I’d have overheated while we were stuck in traffic on Laurel. If he had made it further on Beverly Glen, he would have been on a dark, curvy road with limited cell reception.

So here’s hoping both cars don’t cost too much. And better yet, will be even better than they were before. So please, send some well wishes to our cars if you don’t mind.

It’s officially Friday, can I start drinking yet? Whew.

PS – too tired to proof-read…sorry.

Photo: Will Spaetzel

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

I do.  And it’s a fucking long ass drive!

Even longer when you have a dog on your lap the entire time.  And even longer still when you drive past those cattle farms.  And well, even longer than longer still when you can’t turn on the AC in the car, and you have a dog in your lap, and you’re afraid that you’re going to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, crossing over some mountain range.

But I’m not complaining.  Honest.  The time with the hubby was great.  The pupster was on his best behavior.  And thanks to having the little guy along for the ride, I was assured plenty of potty breaks.  Yay!  Overall, a great first half of a road trip.  Tomorrow we’ll actually get to stop and take pictures if the mood strikes us.  The wild flowers and poppies were in the glory all over the hills.  All those yellows, oranges and purples mixed in with the green…such a pretty sight.

I did learn that the little guy does NOT like the smell of cattle farms.  Poor thing actually turned to smell his butt thinking he had an accident or something.  He was mortified and then tried to jump into the backseat to escape the stench. Now, if you’ve even been unlucky enough to pass by some cattle farms, you know that there is NO escaping the stench.

He wasn’t a huge fan of the garlic farms either.  He should just be happy that it wasn’t freshly tilled garlic.  Then again, there’s always tomorrow since we plan to drive down the 101 to head home…right straight through Gilroy, home of the Garlic Festival.  Maybe I can talk the hubs into at least tasting some garlic ice cream.

So the hubs is off hanging with all the other Bruuuuuce fans.  I haven’t received any texts (then again, he’s live tweeting for his website), so he must be having a great show.  And of course, I enjoyed my bubble bath.  Luxury is a hot, hot bubble bath (in a tub you don’t have to clean), while drinking a skinny caramel macchiato and listening to the iPod (I won’t ruin this luxorious image by telling you what I was actually listening to – LOL).  Heavenly, I tell ya.

So now the pupster is hiding under the bed (still).  He’s afraid that I’ll be picking him up and taking him into the bathroom for a bath.  Goes to show you how often I take baths at our place…the dog automatically associates filling a tub with his getting a bath.  Poor thing.  I’m sure he’ll be fine by the time the hubs gets back.

On that note, I think it’s time to veg out in front of the TV.  We get movie channels in this here high quality hotel 😉  Or there’s always Jon & Kate Plus 8.

Later Y’all!

Nothing Beats a Good Snuggle With the Boys

We got home late last night, after midnight.  By the time we went to bed it was 1:30 or so.  Before we could even think about settling down, the cat demanded that we give him the attention he felt he deserved.  Of course, by the time we went to bed, he was meowing up a storm to let us know that he wasn’t yet ready for bed.

We woke up far too early this morning, around 8:30 or so.  Again, more loving with the cat.  We headed out to breakfast (Mexican, yum – you don’t quite realize how much you miss certain flavors when you’re away).  Then it was on to pick up the pupster.    The cat saw us walking up the walk together and let out two big meows and ran to the door.  As soon as we walked in the door, the cat was rubbing up against the dog welcoming him home and trying to snuggle with him on the couch.

From there it was back to bed for this bunch.  All four of us fell back to sleep for two hours or so.  I woke up so hot from having both boys snuggled up so tight.  Well that and the fact that it’s 90+ degrees out.  Why the hell is it 90 anything in the middle of November???

I feel a bit better.  I’m not as congested as I was.  There’s hope this might not turn into an infection yet.  Then again, half of LA County is on fire and the smoke and ash in the air is insane.  So who knows.  I’m just thankful we didn’t come home to any fires in Griffith Park.  That would have just been too much.  We’re still waiting to hear from my BIL to find out how he is.  There’s a mass amount of fire activity over in his neck of the woods and he’s just up the hill from all of it (with his exit on the freeway being closed on and off).

This has to have been one of the world’s most boring posts. To make it up to you, here are a couple videos from our trip around Dublin. If you listen closely you can hear the tour guide (see, I did get some Irish for you CurlyWurly).

More of our bus tour, this time covering the only remaining “old wall” of the Dublina and the Guinness area (I talk a bit through this one a bit, repeating what the tour guide says). Guinness bought up tons of acreage in the city and then took a 9000 year lease on it all. Wow.

PS – it’s not easy to shut off the Flip when you’re wearing gloves

Some Photos From Belfast

I have to say, probably one of my favorite things that we did this entire trip was the political mural tour in Belfast.  Our driver was great and had a wealth of knowledge.  You could just feel his pain when he told us about life on the Protestant side of the Peace Wall growing up.

It’s just amazing to think that it’s only 8 years after the Trouble’s ceasefire in 2000.  According to him, the city is an entirely different place.  Yet at the same time, the Peace Wall is still up and the gates are locked shut each night.

While there’s not too much fighting going on, it’s still not completely peaceful.  There was talk in the news just yesterday of a pipe bomb going off that was meant for an IRA official.  That will probably take generations before the hatred dissipates.  So sad.

According to our tour guide, these murals take 2-3 weeks to go up. As the older, more discriminatory and threatening murals start to fade and peel, they’re being replace by the city with more friendly, cultural morals.

Here are a couple of photos from that tour. This first batch are taken from a Protestant housing project.



This one is creepy as all hell. That gun follows you as you walk by. The entire time it’s pointing at you. I must’ve been quite freaked since that’s actually the only shot I got of this mural and it’s not even a full-on shot.


One of the many myths depicting the story behind the red hand of Ulster.


This is the Peace Wall – it locks in the Catholics and keeps the Protestants out. You’ll notice that it’s built in three stages. Turns out, it was never quite tall enough to keep out the bombs and the rockets from the Protestant side.


This is one of the many sets of gates into the Catholic area. Each gated entrance actually consists of two sets of gates – one further in. The Peace Wall entirely surrounds and encloses the Catholic town and extends fully into the mountains beyond. They’re all locked down every night.


This is on the side of the IRA headquarters. It’s a mural of Bobby Sands, one of the first IRA prisoners to lead a hunger strike while imprisoned. I remember hearing about his when I was a kid.


On the Catholic side, they have an entire wall dedicated to the international causes that the IRA supports (in some cases, schools the local terrorists) and opposes. This is an example of what they oppose about the US and (soon to be former) President Bush. You’ll notice that he’s sucking the oil out of Iraq.


Fascinating stuff, all of it. I wish the tour could have been another hour longer still. But really, that alone made the drive into Belfast so worth it.

It’s Official…

I caught it. Yep, seems I caught Richard’s Irish cold.  Which of course means now I get to drink all the Irish Whiskey!!  Haha!!

Tomorrow we take the Black Cab tour of Belfast.  I can’t wait.  One, we don’t have to drive.  Two, we get to see everything we want to see.  Three, we get to stop for photos.  Four, we don’t have to drive.  Woohoo!!

Photos From on the Way Into Dublin

Jameson & Ginger Ale, my drink of choice…
Jameson & Ginger Ale - My Drink of Choice

Still haven’t seen a castle, but here’s another church (there are plenty of those around) Saint Sinian’s Tyrrellpass

House in ruins

There’s a lot going on in the news out here. On the 7th there was a HUGE cocaine bust in Cork.Then the following day or so, there was a gang-related murder of an innocent rugby player.  All this recent gang activity is making for demand in changing the current legistlation.  Needless to say, the gangs aren’t too happy and have been calling in some bomb threats.  I believe that’s what’s happening in this photo here.


PS – not happy with the way the photos are formating on the page, but I’m not going to mess with it now.  Maybe it’s just time to change up the blog theme and header again.

I’m Done Driving in Ireland

Seriously. We got lost again in Dublin. We got lost trying to find our way to Temple Bar, the area where our hotel was. We got stuck in some major rush hour traffic (one roundabout took nearly 20 minutes itself – the first time we went through and yes, that means we went through it more than once looking for the road we needed). Then we got really, really lost just trying to find our way around the streets to get to the hotel itself.

Let’s face, Dublin streets have been around since the Medieval age (not counting all that druid, celtic and earlier stuff), what would make anyone think that they’d make any sort of sense. One ways changing direction. Streets that look like alleys (or one ways) that turn out their regular streets. Areas closed down to traffic. You name it. Luckily, here in Dublin we don’t really the car until we head to Belfast. Even then, the hubs is driving as I’m done with the driving and the traffic and the construction. I’ll let him take over and try my hand at navigating. I will miss those roundabouts though.

No photos today. We took some as we were driving from Galway to Dublin, but they’re taking forever to load into Flickr. So until they get up there, I’m going to crash. Man, I feel sleepy today – could be those Jameson & Ginger Ales (yum!) Now that I’m not driving, I can finally have a drink or two 😉

No Castles or Forts Yet to be Seen

Well, that’s not entirely honest.  We did see a castle, or at least the outline of a castle in the dark of the rainy, evening sky as we drove to Galway.  We were also near a castle or two in Killarney – again, while in the rain, as evening was quickly approaching.  I do have it on good authority, that there is a castle a short (ha!) drive out of Dublin that we can visit easily.

Let me just say, I knew that it would be rainy in November.  I knew that the day would be shorter in November.  But I didn’t realize until we looked it up last night that sunrise is 8:30ish and sunset is 3:45ish.  Um…that’s only about eight hours.  Now add in some rain…okay a LOT of rain…and the day is shorter still.  No wonder we’re not able to see all that much.  We’re typically back at the room around 6:30 or so with a short nap and then out to dinner and the pub around 9:30 or so.  So yeah, the moral of the story, no castles and ruins for us yet.  But there’s always tomorrow (and the next four days in Dublin and Belfast).

Of course, it didn’t help that the hubs seems to have come down with a pretty nasty cold (and to think, we thought I’d be the one to catch something that would turn into an infection of sorts).  So basically, we spent today in the room.  We did venture out to visit the pharmachemist to get some cold/flu meds and then some fish and chips for lunch.  But otherwise, I’ve just been reading and forcing the hubs to inhale EmergenC and ginger tea.

Interestingly enough, he’s not complaining about the vacation.  I guess to him, as long as he gets some good music, good drinks (be it beer or his new sickly favorite, hot whisky), good food, and time to just relax away from the office it’s a good vacation for him.

On that note, I’m off to my next book while the hubs naps some more.  Poor guy, he was up half the night tossing and turning.