Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's PUMPKIN Patch time and we have some great ones in the Northwest!

Growing up as a child in Los Angeles, California, pumpkin patches and farms were make believe places I saw on TV or in the movies.  Even after moving to Washington in my teens, my parents stuck with the usual store purchased pumpkin and didn't properly introduce me to any farms. 

Now with children of my own I have finally spent the last few years enjoying the TRUE holiday of Halloween and all it's activities of a Pumpkin Patch.  I had no clue that some have rides, mazes, petting zoos and so much more to offer than just pumpkins. 
Olympia, WA has a several great pumpkin patches just in this area.  I've heard of many throughout the Puget Sound are wonderful and if you have any travel plans to be in the Northwest in October, you won't be disappointed if you make a pit stop at the Pumpkin Patch! Ask a local where their favorite farm is to visit and you're likely to be given a decent location. 
I will admit it can get a little pricey at the more popular locations, so we spend a little money on a couple rides and the hay maze and actually just get one or two very small pumpkins the kids can carry on their own and save our money for the large pumpkins to be purchased at the grocery store. 

This year we chose to visit Hunter's Pumpkin Patch here in Olympia with some friends.  I had been visiting Schilter's Family Farm the last couple years with my daughters school groups.  We had a great time with the girls running through a maze as we watched them get lost from above.  I watched my son take his first Pony ride while my daughter took a scream down the slide and a fun ride on a ATV and Haunted train.  The activities are fun and if you get lucky (as we did this year) to get some sunny Northwest October weather, it makes for an even better day at the farm.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Tolmie State Park - Washington

Today's Photo Friday is a picture I took last month with my iphone and just dolled up a little using Picnik (a website I LOVE for photo editing).  It may not be the best photo, but I think it shows how amazing the simple things can be.  We visit this small state park often that is near our home.  On this particular day, the bridge we've walked over many times before seemed extraordinary to me and I snapped a quick picture with my iphone since I didn't have my digital with me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where in the World is Traveler's Barista?

Hello to all my travel readers and followers! You may have noticed that my normal daily posting have become more like once or twice weekly and unfortunately, nothing at all so far this week.  I just wanted to reassure you all that my writing will continue and I'm just here at home in the Northwest getting my career back up and going in Real Estate after taking a couple years off from being home with my children. 

My travels are still non-stop and I am leaving this evening for two states in four days with my mom.  Along with our ongoing family camping trips and upcoming travels, my passion still lives on, but I just haven't had as much time to share my stories with all of you.  Please check back often as I get things back on track with setting aside more time for blogging, traveling and chatting with all of you on twitter!

Here's a taste of my next upcoming Post...
Camping Deception Pass State Park (Whidbey Island)


Friday, October 1, 2010

What a VIEW! (Out the window)

Ok, so it is called "Foto FUN Friday" afterall and this photo was just too priceless not to share! My son after a bath making sure to see the sites out our 24th floor suite in Vancouver, B.C.  He loved watching the cars and people below and thankfully they couldn't see him above.

Have any Fun and Priceless pictures of your Kids traveling?
(You know, the ones you'll get out and show their future spouse)


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mossyrock Park Camping - Tacoma Power

Just an hour and twenty minutes South East of Olympia you can find four different camping grounds owned and maintained by Tacoma Power.  These parks are reserved on the State park website, but in my opinion are far superior to state campgrounds.  Maybe not so much privacy on the sites, but very well kept and full of activities.

We booked our second trip to Mossyrock Park (the last trip several years ago) and it was just as nice as I recalled.  We arrived and easily found our space #161 on the upper camping level.  This was by far the largest campsite we've ever reserved, although part of it was technically the "horse shoe" play area, but no one ever came to use it.  It had a great peak-a-boo view of the lake and just a short walk away was a playground for the kids.  My daughter noticed it the moment we pulled in and immediately dragged me over to play, which worked out well for letting my husband set up camp. 
We were actually surprised by the warm weather we received and I was a little hot because I had packed for rain and cold.  If your family has a boat or enjoys water activities, this is the place to be! Riffe Lake is vast and many people come with a boat or jet skies in tow. 

Don't want to get in the water? Take a 15min drive East towards the City of Morton and stop at the Mossyrock Dam for an amazing site!  This Dam is Washington State's tallest and very impressive to say the least.  If you've got some time, continue on to the small but charming town of Morton to hit the local grocery store to stock up on camping supplies or anything you may have left from home.  Although Mossyrock does have a small convienence store in town if there is anything you need to get right away while camping, as well as a small one inside the campground.

Overall this was a great camping trip for our family.  I know camping is about hiking and activities and things you don't normally do at home, but the playground was the biggest entertainment for my kids, second to riding bikes. 

Vist any one of the four Tacoma Power Campgrounds and I am sure you won't be disappointed.  It's not the "nature lover's" campgrounds, but there's plenty to see and do in and around the lake.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dreaming of a Gondola in Paris - Foto Fun Friday

Ok, so this isn't exactly Paris, but it has me dreaming.  One of my favorite quick gettaway cities has these fun boats and even the Eiffle tower. What U.S City is this?


Friday, September 17, 2010

Jacks Canyon - Foto Fun Friday

A beautiful sight during a solo trip I took of Jacks Canyon. What state is this Canyon?

September 3, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Ultimate place for families in Vancouver, B.C. - Stanley Park

When we woke up that morning in our downtown Vancouver, B.C. hotel, we were excited to take the kids for a relaxing ride through Stanley Park after a long drive the day before.  We headed for the parking garage and quickly realized my bicycle had been stolen off our Suburban.  After a few tears from my 6 year old daughter, a long talk with security and a great Hyatt customer service manager who promptly got me a bike rental, we made our way over to Stanley Park.

Downtown Vacouver is a large, clean, but a very business focused city. Once you enter Stanley Park you feel as though you've entered a whole new world.  Beautiful water views from the entire 6 mile walking and biking seawall trail is not to be missed.  You'll find plenty of other trails throughout the 1,000 acre park as well.

We spent our entire afternoon riding the seawall around Stanley Park on our bikes.  We are far from being seasoned riders and I honestly don't remember the last time we rode, so don't worry if your not in the best of shape.  The paths are farely flat and just a little narrow in a couple of areas, but I managed to pull two kids in a wide trailer without incident. 

You can't go wrong bringing the family here, whether you enjoy biking, hiking, swimming, or visiting an aquarium, they have a ton of activities to do.  Our choice to ride bikes was for the scenery, ease of pulling the kids around and also the cheaper of our options.  Swimming in the public pool, a visit to the aqaurium, a horse drawn carriage ride or a stop at the concession stand will cost you money.  Two hamburgers, one fry and one drink $20 dollars, OUCH!

Visiting the Park on a budget with Kids


Transportation:  Did you bring the car? If you're not already paying a ridiculously high hourly price at your hotel, leave the car behind and hop onto a trolley or bus to the park.  Parking rates in and around Stanley park are hefty.  We found ourselves paying $9/hr to park in an outside lot and parking inside the park can be hard to find on a nice sunny afternoon.
Playtime: We came across a couple great play areas for the kids. One fun looking water park, which was just breezy enough that day to not get wet in, but some other kids didn't seem to mind.  You can find this park closer to the Lions Gate Bridge viewing area off the seawall trail.

Near the entrance of the park from downtown you will find two great parks for the kids.  Along with the public pool and concession stand. 

Food: PACK A LUNCH or whatever meal it is you may need while in the park.  Once you ride over or park for the day and begin exploring Stanley Park, you won't want to leave just for a meal. 

Say "Hello" to the Canadian Geese!  This is just a must do while in Canada, or I guess you could say "AY!"  Along side the creek near the aquarium you will find lots of geese, ducks and beautiful swans.

During our long weekend in Vancouver, Stanley Park was by far the highlight of our trip.  Plan your visit with some sunshine and you could spend an entire weekend alone in Stanley Park doing tons of activities with the family.  I was sad that after a long day of bike riding and playing at the park we were just too tired to visit the Aquarium that we had planned to see.  So if you want to visit the Aquarium, I suggest making it your first stop in Stanley Park.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Father and Daughter Kiting at the Ocean - Foto Fun Friday

One of our favorite Washington Beaches isn't for tanning, but always gives us great winds for the kite. Love this shot of my husband and daugther.

Can you name this popular Washington Beach destination?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crossing the Canadian Border with Kids

Getting there and...Waiting
If your planning a trip North to visit our good neighbors, the Canadians, be sure you're ready to cross the border.  If your crossing to Canada via I-5 in Western Washington you have two options for crossing - the Peace Arch or the Pacific Highway crossing also know as the "Truck Crossing", but don't let the name fool you, cars and other vehicles are welcome to use this crossing as well.  You will come up to an electronic display sign as you near your options.  Hopefully it will give you an accurate reading of the wait times at each crossing for you to choose which one to use.  When we arrived it stated 45min Peace Arch and 20min Pacific Highway crossing time.  We chose Pacific Hwy and it was probably more like a 30 minute wait, but still not too bad for a Saturday afternoon.  Many people have complained that the accuracy of the sign is off and a 90min wait can realistically lead to a 3hr wait, so just be prepared.

A typical border crossing can take an hour up to several hours depending on traffic and if you have any delays in having the pleasant opportunity of a random search.

Crossing with Kids
If your traveling with children, use this time for maybe a fun lesson on borders and the differences of Canada and the U.S.A and why we must stop to provide identification.  After stopping for the border my daughter quickly set up a lesson of her own asking many questions about Canada and why we had to go through security, etc.  So you may want to brush up on your Canadian/U.S. knowledge before taking the trip, your kids may put you on the spot as a History teacher!

Also take this time to explain that crossing is a serious time and once you get to the booth (or "policeman" as we described to our 6yr old) that being loud or saying anything without being asked is not appropriate.  I once crossed the border into Mexico with a group of teens and after one "jokingly" said he was from Mexico as we were entering back into the U.S, it quickly prompted a couple hour delay in our crossing.

Items you will need to Cross:
  • First and most importantly: Everyone's PASSPORT!  This is a new requirement within the last couple of years that you must have a Passport to cross to Canada, no matter how you get there.
  • If your a single parent, divorced or just crossing solo with the kids, get written permission from the other parent of your child to make crossing easier.
  • If your taking children that are not your own, you will definitely need written permission from the child's parents to cross. 
  • If your bringing your "other child" the family pet you will need signed and dated certificates from a veterinarian verifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years
  • Knowledge of where your headed, why your headed there and how long you will be staying.  As the travel planner of the family I have to remind my husband before we pull up to the line what hotel we are staying at and how long.
Packing some Extra
Whether your expecting a long border crossing wait or not, consider your travel time and whether you could be held up during lunch or dinner time.  If lines are hours long you will be asked to turn off your vehicle while you wait, so pack some games or a lunch/dinner and get out of the car if it's nice.  Stay near by so once the line moves you can move along with it.  There is plenty of grassy area and bathrooms for your use while you wait. 

For more technical crossing information you can visit ShareThis

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Butterfly in the Caymans - Foto Fun Friday

This butterfly picture was taken on a trip to Georgetown, Grand Cayman islands. 

Can you name the type of butterfly it is? My friend who is a enthusiast knew it right when he saw the picture.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Waterpark in Idaho

On a recent trip to Eastern Washington my family and I were invited to visit Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water park near Coeur d'Alene Idaho.  We packed  up from Spokane, Washington where we were camping and took the 45min drive over to Idaho Sunday morning.

With the park opening at 11am that morning, we packed our own lunch and were pleasantly surprised to see a nice area next to the parking lot at Silverwood where we were able to use a picnic table under a shaded tree.  
My daughter wanted to visit Boulder Beach first and she screamed with excitement when she saw the huge Polliwog play area for kids.  My sites were set on the Lazy River just across the way and after some playtime on the slides, waterfalls and shallow pool we took the entire family into the lazy river, including my two year old son who had a blast.  The park provides life vests so it was great to know they were safe in the water with plenty of lifeguards at every turn you take.

After hours of playing in the water on different rides, slides and pools, we realized we had to head over to the other side of Silverwood theme park to ride the roller coasters and kids rides.

Before we went over, we grabbed a snack at Boulder Beach and I was surprised by the prices and quantity of food they provided.  Unlike other big name parks they don't charge ridiculous prices for their food and a single scoop of ice cream was more like four scoops.  We opted for the Sliders miniature hamburgers which was enough to feed our family of four for a quick snack.  In one meal we each got a burger and a handful of fries.  If your looking for a bigger selection on food, head over towards the Silverwood park entrance where I found Salads, sandwiches, chicken and plenty of healthier options at a great price as well.

Warning: Gushy motherly moment is about to take place. 

My favorite part about the Silverwood theme park was finally getting to see my two year old son ride the rides and enjoy them with his sister, it truly brought tears to my eyes.  The height limits in this park are very forgiving and are mostly set at "maximum height" limits in the kids Garfield Camp area.  He was able to ride the helicopters and planes over and over again with a big smile!  The lines were short and quick and both my children had a blast. 

With a six year old who is not yet a fan of roller coasters or big rides and a two year old, we spent alot of time in Garfield's Camp.  But we walked the entire park and the adults were able to enjoy a few of the larger rides such as the Panic Plunge and Timber Terror wooden coaster.  There are also a few smaller kid rides mixed in with the roller coasters so don't just stay in the kids area for smaller rides.
Ok, he really WAS smiling, but he's a pretty serious kid  
Overall we ended up staying at the park from open to close and still didn't get to do everything they had to offer.  Our children left tired, but extremely happy and had a great day!  I left happy knowing that the great Northwest does have a theme park to brag about.  I can't wait to plan a trip to Idaho again to get back to Silverwood. 

Plan your Silverwood Trip
Silverwood has two great parks to visit, each of which could entertain your family for the entire day.  Silverwood has it's very own Campground right across the street next to the parking lot.  Why not plan a weekend camping trip with theme parks? Plus, you get discount tickets to the park during your stay.

Looking for discount tickets? Before talking with Silverwood I had priced out the best tickets for the park and found that Costco was providing the best overall entrance price.  You can also visit Silverwood's website for e-ticket pricing and list of current offers. 

*Silverwood gave my family complimentary entry to the park. However, this does not affect my personal opinions in this article. ShareThis

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Do you travel while the kids are in school? Back to School tips!

School is in session and trips are put on the back burner for many families.  Learning means sitting at a desk, reading books, taking tests, and doing homework.  Do you only vacation during breaks and summer time?  Many families follow this routine in fear that their child's education may be at risk for missing school days.

I was raised in a family where school was the number one priority and received the "perfect attendance" award almost yearly up through middle school.  Now having my own children I find this to be a battle within myself to decide what I consider most important in my life.  Does it hurt to allow my kids to miss a week or two of school to travel abroad?  For my husbands line of business, winter time and colder weather means more time off and summertime is a challenge for longer trips.

Travel can be educational, in fact I believe any sort of travel is true hands-on education.  From learning to ride local transit, to visiting museums, learning to swim or snorkel and the simple task of listening and following directions.  In my adulthood I have learned so much more than I ever have in any classroom by traveling.  New cultures, history and the art of getting lost in new places. 

While not every family believes it is OK to remove children from school to travel, I've had many discussions with other families and compiled a list of tips for taking those school days off to travel.

Tips for School friendly travel

1. Keep your child's teacher informed.  Speak with them prior to making plans and make sure your travels don't interfere with any "major" school activities

2. Most parents I spoke to believe that traveling while kids are in Elementary and Middle school has less impact on education. High School is considered a more important time since future colleges and employers take these four years for applications.

3. Check out your school districts limits or rules on "excused absences".  Even though you may be allowing your child to take the time, your district may have their own allowance and can even hold your child back a grade if they miss too many days.

4. Plan a specific educational outing during your trip. A museum, zoo, aquarium or any place that offers new sightings for your child.  Planning a trip based on something they are learning in school would be even more amazing!  Even for a young child learning ABC's you could spend the day at the park finding objects starting with each letter of the alphabet.

5. Use school time for more local travel. Trips within a 1-2hr drive from home. Take a three day weekend and that way your child only misses one day of school.  Want to go farther? Check out your local transportation.  See if there is a train that can get your farther, faster!

6. Use school time for solo or couples travel! Leave the kids home to stay in school while you spend a four day weekend or even a week long trip away.  No guilt about school and more playtime for the adults!

7. Does your childs class provide the opportunity for "show and tell"? Talk with the teacher to see if your child can share with classmates what they learned during the trip.  This builds up speaking skills for your child, as well as assure your teacher that your child is in fact learning while he/she is gone from the classroom.

8. Listen to your children, ask them if they want to travel and if they are feel caught up in school.  If your child is struggling, maybe it's not the best time to take them out for a trip to Disneyland.  Hold off on vacation until you feel your child is ready. Saving cash to travel in the off season isn't worth putting your child behind in education.

9. Have a child headed for college? Traveling with your children young may lead to future educational trips of their own, such as doing a semester at Sea. Something I wish I had done myself as a young adult.  What a great opportunity for learning and traveling all in one!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Alaska Sunsets - Foto Fun Friday

Beautiful sunsets every night along this cruise to Alaska. This pic was my old point and shoot, but the scenery was so amazing you couldn't take a "bad" shot.

Alaska is definitely a cruise I recommend. Not your typical tropical cruise, but still a great time!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spokane's Riverfront Park and the World's largest Red Wagon

We spent an afternoon at the Riverfront Park in Spokane, WA and it was absolutely beautiful!  The summer flowers were in bloom and it just so happened to be "kids day" at the park with bounce houses and fun games for the kids.

The park has plenty of entertainment year-round including an IMAX theatre, Carousel, train ride, amusement rides, ice skating rink (oct-march), Spokane Falls skyride and the infamous world's largest Red Wagon slide! 

Just walking around watching the ducks in the water and seeing all the sites kept us busy for a few hours and unfortunately we were on a time schedule that day and didn't get to stay and see everything. 

Downtown Spokane is beautiful and clean.  For some reason I had imagined it to be so different than what it was.  I had been told stories of it being old and not very nice, but even with half the downtown being historical property, it's all very well kept and preserved. So many things to see and do around Spokane and we just didn't have the time in our short weekend.  

If you enjoy riding bikes, this is definitely a bike friendly city with nice riding trails all over and along the river.
My daughter enjoyed the World's largest Red Flyer Wagon, even though the metal slide did get a little hot in the summer sun.

Riding the Spokane Falls Skyride over the River was fun and about the right price.  The temperature was about 80 degrees at the time we got on and just a warning, it's about 10 degrees hotter inside the Gondola. So if it's in the 90's, expect to sit in a 100 degree ride for 15-20 minutes.
Where to stay while you in Spokane? See our Riverside Campsite, beautiful state park!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Riverside State Park - Pitcher and Bowl - Spokane and Nine Mile Falls, WA

Our time at Riverside State Park wasn't nearly long enough.  We arrived Friday evening after a long haul over from Western Washington and spent the weekend exploring Spokane and Idaho.  Rarely have we visited a State park and wanted to spend more time IN the park rather than out and about. 
The camping spots along the river are not exactly private, but being there are only several in a row on a dead end road, you have little to no traffic and no one camping in front of or behind you.  We were in space #3, which was a nice location and just a short ways from the great Riverfront walking trails.
On a morning walk my daughter and I saw huge bird nests in the trees as well as several bird species in the river.  The mornings were just right with the sun shining and a cool breeze of fresh air.  The summer evenings were warm and we stayed out to play until late at night. 
Be sure to take a walk over to the swinging bridge or stop in the parking lot near the entrance of the park to go the quicker route.  We went with the kids one morning and they didn't want to leave the bridge.  It was fun listening to the river rush by and toss pebbles into the water below. 
As with any camping near water, the bugs were plenty at night.  Be sure to keep your camper or tent doors shut at all times.  Otherwise you'll find yourself sleeping with the moths and creepy crawlers we found in our trailer.  Unfortunately, teaching two young kids to keep the doors closed is a task all in itself!
My family and I loved this campsite and are already discussing our next trip over to spend more time at Riverside State Park. 

IMPORTANT TIP for trailer campers: We had our own directions but decided to follow the FREEWAY suggestion of taking the next exit.  We were lost after just minutes of not finding another sign to follow.  Print your directions and stick with them.  The actual campground name is called "Pitcher and Bowl" which I hadn't seen anywhere on the state reservations form.

Then we were a little confused when we arrived to the Park entrance road and the sign only had a picture of tents with an arrow.  Typically there is a pic of a camper, but yes, this is the camper/trailer park area.  Don't turn RIGHT off of Riffle Road, this will only take you to the day park area and there is no where to turn around with your trailer.  Follow the tent arrow to the LEFT.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Foto Fun Friday - August 20th, 2010

Located in the Yucatan Pennisula. The most famous structure of these Mayan Ruins is the Temple Of The Seven Dolls, so named because of seven small effigies found at the site when the temple was discovered under the ruins of a later temple pyramid by archaeologists in the 1950s. On the Spring equinox, the sun rises so that it shines directly through one window of the temple and out the other. This is a similar event to the descending snake of Chichen Itza designed to show the power of the gods.The temple is connected to the rest of the site by a long sacbé. (Information provided by: Wikepedia)

Can you name these Mayan Ruins?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What toy kept my kids most entertained on our Road Trip?

A couple days before our road trip across the State of Washington, I stopped in at Target for some kid entertainment.  They have a dollar spot at the front of the store where I grabbed a few items in hopes to gain a couple hours of cheap distraction on the road.  I purchased the following items for $1.

1. Math book for my daughter
2. Learning numbers book for my son
3. Flarp! - Farting putty
4. Sidewalk Chalk
5. Cotton Candy, for that moment of desparation

In addition to these items I let the kids bring a few of their own toys from home. My daughter brought her Barbies and she packed a couple tractors for her little brother and some Crayola Color Wonder Color books and markers so the kids could color without me worrying about the mess my two year old might be making.

Out of the list above, which item do you think was a hit? I'll make it easy and tell you that offering the cotton candy didn't phase them and I think neither of them took more than two bites.  They were too busy farting up a storm in the back seat!

I had purchased Santa brought my daughter Flarp last Christmas and she loved it.  It only lasts a few days before it gets too dry to make anymore fart sounds.  I know, this sounds disgusting, but you have to admit, who doesn't giggle over farts?  My kids love this stuff and it's cheap entertainment.  My son was old enough this time to play with it himself, so I got them each their own Flarp can. 

The rest of the trip was mostly spent playing with their favorite toys from home and we didn't even take the time to use the chalk on our rest stops.  We were more interested in eating, stretching our legs and getting back on the road as quickly as possible.  The planned 6hr drive turned into 8 hours, but it was a great trip overall.  There were definitely trying moments of frustration for both the kids and us parents, but we made it through and want to do the trip again sometime. 

Want to see some cute kids making some not so cute Fart noises? Here is a candid kid review of Flarp! My daughter was making googly eyes for some reason, but I swear I didn't tell them I was posting this or ask them to say anything about it. Just them having fun in the back seat.  Wait for the end to really hear the Flarp working.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Travel Tip Tuesday - Mosquito's are out and hungry!

As we close in on the end of summer (and a late one here in the Northwest), you will find that your outdoor activities may be taken over by pesky bugs!  Our backyard evenings are now down to a routine; cover up, get sprayed and stay away from the wetlands. 

Recognize that while traveling you may encounter more than the usual amount of bugs, especially if your packing up for that weekend camping trip at the Lake or taking a jog through the shaded trees.

Here are some tips to preventing those nasty, itchy mosquito bites:
  • Spray on bug repellent when going outdoors- don't forget your feet, ankles and the back of your neck
  • Cover your body with clothing. If it's extremely hot out, wear thin or lightweight clothes.
  • If your camping outdoors, be sure there are no mosquitoes in your tent before going to bed, otherwise they'll be having a blood sucking party all night long - no fun!
  • If your staying in another country with major bug issues, request a net for while you sleep
  • Don't leave any standing water while your outdoors, even a small bucket of water left untouched will become a Mosquitoes nesting place
  • Close the doors of your home while playing outside. Our kids have the habit of running out and leaving them open. This can be hard sometimes but even closing the screen door helps.
Don't forget your pets!
  • Yes, mosquitoes like animal blood too, so keep your pets indoors
  • Fill any outdoor pet bowls with fresh water daily to keep the bugs out
Interesting Mosquito FACTS:

Who Doesn't like to Travel? Mosquitoes!
Most mosquitoes remain within a 1 mile radius of their breeding site.

Did you think Mosquito's eat blood? (So did I!)
Mosquitoes do not feed on blood. The female mosquito requires a blood meal for development of her eggs.

Find more fun and interesting Mosquito Facts on
Travel Tip Tuesday - August 17th, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where to buy those impossible to find Camper sized bed sheets

Unless you are a sewing extraordinaire (unlike me), you will find that shopping for bedsheets and linens for an RV or Camping Trailer seems impossible.  We purchased our trailer earlier this year and the first thing I was excited to do was decorate and add all those little personal touches - not that there is much to add, but it needed to feel like a home away from home. 

I went to Target and loaded up on some essential kitchen and camping items.  Our kid's bunk beds were made of a firm thin mattress so I purchased a cheap foam mattress pad and cut them to size for the bunks, worked great!

I realized we needed bed sheets immediately if we were planning to take our first camping trip soon.  After going from Sporting stores to the "world's foremost outfitter" and biggest store I've ever been in, Cabelas, I was unable to find sheet sets to fit our beds.  A couple of the stores had some very cheap feeling, 200 count sheets for the Queen at an outrageous price.  We needed sets for the short queen bed and the four rear bunks for the kids and their future camping buddies. 

I even called up Grandma to see if she could make something but she is one extremely busy Red Hat Society president and wouldn't be able to get to them anytime soon.  But I do still have her on backorder for comforters for the bunks, hopefully coming soon!

I spent a few days shopping online and after viewing the only handful of stores I could find that were extremely overpriced, I came across AB Lifestyles websiteA family owned company that makes quality 300 thread count RV camper style sheets at a decent price!  I did debate for a couple days and sent in some questions on the sizing for my thin bunks and they quickly responded.  I ordered the combo pack which was perfect for us; One short Queen set and two bunk sheet sets. 

They arrived in the mail about a week later and the color and quality was amazing.  Super soft sheets with extra elastic on the top sheet to keep them from shifting and having to make your bed in tight quarters every day.  I was pleased with my order and I am hoping this post may help someone else make an easy choice at Camper bed sheet shopping, rather than spending a week trying to find them and decide if it's a good deal or not. 

AB Lifestyles also provides Camper sized comforter sets, Airstream Trailer sets, mattress pads and mattress covers for allergies.  They also have many other bedding products for specialized needs and custom sizing.

*I did not receive any products or materials from AB Lifestyles. All opinions on this article are my own personal experience from purchasing a product from them.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Foto Fun Friday - August 13th, 2010

I've posted this picture before on an article- but I LOVE it! 
Sitting there in a ghost town city, I captured a great photo in 2010 middle America. 

Do you remember what State I was visiting?


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is bigger really better? Mega Cruise Ships take over the Seas

After a cruise last year on what was the worlds largest cruise ship at the time, Royal Caribbeans Liberty of the Seas, I realized the good and bad of these beautiful mega ships.  Their newest Oasis class, holding 5,400 passengers (not including crew), dwarfs the passenger count of 3,600 on the Liberty and the typical cruise ship capacity of 2,500-3,000 passengers on major cruise lines.

The Good
These mega ships are up to date with the latest cruising technologies, including smoother sailing with a wider hull, as well as the ability to check your onboard cruise account from your TV in your cabin.  More deck space creates more activities; climbing walls, ice skating rinks, an onboard carousel, movie theatre's, more dining options and more dedicated youth and adult only areas.  I kept busy aboard the Liberty each day trying out activities I would not have had the chance to do on a smaller ship.

As with every other cruise ship I've gone on, even having over 3,600 people onboard, you'd hardly notice!  If you've never cruised this may seem impossible, but cruise ships are made to hold thousands of passengers without feeling crowded.  About the only time I could tell there were at least a few hundred other vacationers was when I attempted to find a lounge chair by the pool on a nice hot day at sea. 

Along with the sheer size of these ships comes the pressure for better entertainment and activities.  I've seen a few shows while cruising that thankfully didn't cost us extra to walk out and find something more entertaining.  Newer and larger ships are setting the standard with Broadway type shows, ice skating shows and bigger and better props.  On the smaller ships, staging is limited and therefore can sometimes reduce the quality of the entertainment.

Royal Caribbean recently announced the Allure will have a 3-D theatre, Dragon Ice Show and Madagascar Aqua Show, along with Chicago:The Musical Broadway show. 

The Bad 
Our third trip to one of our favorite Caribbean destinations, Cozumel.  We arrived to port and it was unlike any other time we had visited.  Cozumel was not yet equipped for a ship of this size and we had to tender into port.  Something typical for many cruise ports, but with 3,600 passengers and only two exits, can you imagine how long it took?  Much longer than a 2,000 passenger ship to tender.

The small island of Cozumel was instantly engulfed with 3,600 tourist from a single ship.  We decided to take a driving tour, looking back there were three other ships parked along side ours.  I asked our guide how many ships have been here at one time?  He chuckled a little and said, "This is nothing, last month we had 12 ships in Port at one time."  Quickly I calculated 12 x 2,800= 33,600 extra people on the island of Cozumel.  An island 29 miles long by 8 miles wide that occupies 60,000 permanent citizens.  Absolute craziness! 

Even on this mellow day of four ships in port, it was more crowded than we had ever seen the island before.  Tours were packed with people, while beaches didn't seem as private.  We still had a wonderful time in Cozumel, but it brought up the thought in my mind that these mega ships may be supplying more tourists than ports should be handling.  Certainly the Cities are loving profits from thousands of tourists a day, but when does that no longer become fun?  When tours are completely booked up, beaches are over crowded and just getting off the ship is an hour long process.

I love cruising and really want to see the industry adding more Port locations, rather than filling up the ones they currently are using with more tourists.  Bigger ships are bringing in more passengers, while our favorite travel destinations become over populated. 

Would I travel MEGA again?
Absolutely!  These ships are big, beautiful and provide a vacation like no other.  Plenty of activities, gourmet dining and in this case I do believe bigger is better.  In fact, I can't wait for the day I get to experience Royal Caribbeans Oasis class, and hopefully before they are no longer the worlds biggest.