When I learned about the Leonberger dogs’ loyalty to their owners and fondness for children, I convinced my husband that– … Continue reading →
The Town of Fenwick Island, Delaware There are two Fenwick Islands, incorporated and unincorporated. The Town of Fenwick Island that … Continue reading →
We had a five-hour Southwest flight delay We had arrived at the airport at 2:30 for a 3:50 flight. Inclement weather … Continue reading →
The Leonberger puppy explores outside the box.
Flyboard at Boca Raton Resort and Club in Florida
When I entered the kitchen around 7 a.m., my husband glared at me with bleary eyes marked with half-moon circles. I poured my coffee and said, “What’s wrong?”
“I was hoping to get a full night’s sleep last night because I have a busy day. Didn’t you hear the dog whine at 4:30 this morning?”
“No, I didn’t hear him or I would’ve gotten up.”
” He whimpered, whined, then he yelped and barked. He needed to go out.”
“So you’re angry that I didn’t hear him.”
“No, I threw on my white terry cloth robe and I couldn’t find my slippers so I put on my flip-flops. The dog tore down the steps to the front door and I followed him and grabbed his leash from the closet. When my flip flops hit the tile foyer, I slid on something slimy and my feet flew up; I landed on my back.
“Are you ok?”
“I’m bruised and tired.”
“What was on the tile?”
“Yellow dog vomit, a big puddle. Don’t worry about cleaning the floor. I had lain there a minute and my robe absorbed it. I rose, and when I opened the wooden entry door the dog pushed the storm door open and ran.”
“He slipped out? We never let that happen. Thank goodness no one was out driving.”
” I walked the neighborhood with nothing on except my robe, underwear, and flip-flops. Clouds had blocked the moon, and I navigated using our floodlights and street lights. I couldn’t find our Labrador retriever, and when I returned home he was standing on the front lawn panting and wagging his tail so hard that his back shimmied. He had stolen six neighbors’ newspapers and scattered them across our front lawn.”
“So, training him to get the newspaper was a success. He must have felt euphoric when he had retrieved the first paper and didn’t know when to stop,” I said.
“I had walked our court with barf streaked down my back and I pitched papers to the homes without them. Some neighbors may be surprised to find a journal on their lawn that they hadn’t ordered.”
” At least the dog seems ok, so we don’t have to take him to the vet. Since we never let him out alone, he shouldn’t be able to nab anymore papers. I’m sorry that your day started at 4:30. On the bright side, the dog helped you relive your youth as a paperboy. But, next time wake me. ”
My brother-in-law, Sam, had made the mistake that has haunted him for decades. He divulged valuable information to the wrong people.
He told my boyfriend Bob, who is now my husband, and me that his mother mentioned that he looked like Burt Reynolds. She was right, he had Burt’s rustic look with dark hair, a mustache, and heavy eyebrows that framed his brown eyes. Regardless, we had set him up for humiliation.
Bob and I had spent months in a resort and knew many restaurant owners and bartenders. We had planned to meet Sam and my sister, Kathy, for appetizers in a bar that we frequented. We arrived first and asked the bartender to tell Sam, who would arrive shortly, that he looked like Burt Reynolds.
Sam and Kathy entered and sat down at the wooden bar beside us, and before they ordered, the bartender said, “You look just like Burt Reynolds.”
Sam rolled his eyes and smiled knowing that Bob and I loved to agitate. He said, “I see that you have been talking to my wacky sister-in-law and her boyfriend.” The bartender laughed. That was the beginning of Sam’s hell.
We left the bar ahead of Sam and Kathy and drove in heavy traffic to an outdoor-dockside restaurant where an acquaintance of ours, Charlie, sang island songs and strummed the guitar. On that humid July night, people packed the tables and bar. Bob and I had arrived and the hostess sat us at a recently vacated dockside table. When Charlie finished his set with Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” we approached and asked him to watch for my sister, a beautiful blond, and my brother-in-law, who resembled Burt Reynolds. “When you spot them, would you please announce that Burt Reynold’s has arrived?” Charlie laughed and agreed.
Ten minutes later, Kathy and Sam ambled around the corner to the deck. Charlie stopped abruptly in the middle of Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” ending with “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I had hoped that these wise words impacted Sam’s outlook on this night.
Charlie stood up from his stool and laid his guitar down and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our surprise guest Burt Reynolds and give him a big hand.”
Bob and I stood at our table and waved to Kathy and Sam. The sundress and polo shirt crowd cheered and clapped as Sam and Kathy skirted the tables heading our way. Sam shook his head and glared at me. When Sam and Kathy sat down, the three of us convulsed with laughter. Sam didn’t smile.
Meanwhile, John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” blasted from a yacht motoring into the harbor. When the boat captain had tried to dock, he had skimmed a piling near our table with the yacht’s bow rail. We watched and heard the rail’s metal pieces click off one by one, like dominoes and splash in the water. We suspected that the captain was drunk. Lucky for us, no one cared about “Burt” anymore.
Sam didn’t divorce my sister over her family’s unusual sense of humor, and they are still married after forty-plus years.
That was the first of several stories about how we tortured our wonderful brother-in-law. Thank goodness he still has a sense of humor.
I changed the names to protect the innocent and guilty.
Whether you are at home or at the Maryland/Delaware beaches, information for 2017 Fourth of July fireworks and activities follow.
Delmarva and Maryland Fourth of July 2017 Fireworks
Maryland and Delmarva Fourth of July Activities
Enjoy your Fourth of July celebration.
Traveling With Pets
Puppy in the car for the first time
Take your puppy on short trips as soon as possible, and he will learn to love it. If your young dog has never ridden in the car, it’s not too late. Take him or her for rides with family members or friends. Ask them to offer treats and pet the dog ensuring that he has a good experience.
Dog Travel Gear
If your dog uses a crate, put it in the car and place familiar toys in it. His favorite toys offer more security in a strange environment than new ones.
Take a water bottle and treats.You may need to put some treats in the crate or car to encourage the dog to jump in.
Use Common Sense and Don’t Leave Pets in Hot Cars
Walk and water the dog before entering the car.
Blast the air conditioner ten minutes or so before you and your pet get in. If you have air-conditioning in the second and third rows, turn that on too.
If you are traveling alone, opt for drive-through restaurants. If you need a restroom, park in the shade, open the windows enough for air and safety. Don’t dawdle.
Never leave your dog in a hot car, even if it’s 70 degrees and you cracked the windows. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine had discovered that a car’s temperature can rise 40 degrees quickly and become lethal.
For safety reasons teach basic commands like down, sit, stay, and come. If the dog stands while you are driving, he should respond to “down.” The dog should know “stay,” because when you open the car door or lift the hatch, the dog shouldn’t jump out until you hook the leash on his collar and he hears a command, like “ok.” If he jumps out before you attach the leash, and he doesn’t respond to “come,” offer him treats to get his attention. Learning these commands could save your dog’s life.
Warning: Dangerous Prong Collars, Slip Collars or Choke Collars
I never put my dog in the car or leave him alone wearing a prong collar or a choke collar, also called a slip collar. I only use them to control him during walks.
As a puppy, his slip-collar Loop became lodged between two deck boards. I heard whimpering and saw him jerk his head up and down trying to escape as the metal choke collar tightened, strangling him like a noose. I pried the collar over his head while my husband raced for the wire cutters. Consequently, I will never leave him unattended wearing one of those collars. He wears a buckle collar at home and in the car. When driving with him, I keep the prong collar in the front seat.
I hope these tips help ensure a happy and safe trip with your pet.
Father’s Day Gift Idea
My husband received a commercial style juicer as a gift a few years ago. It’s one of our favorite kitchen items and would make a unique Father’s Day gift. We use it to squeeze fresh oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. You can juice a citrus fruit in seconds, and it’s easy to clean with two removable parts that are dishwasher safe.
During our summer parties, we often serve orange and grapefruit crushes because the sweet tang tastes refreshing. Below are the recipes that I follow.
Orange Crush Recipe
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, I prefer Valencia juice oranges, but I use what is available.
1-2 ounces of Smirnoff Orange or Grey Goose l’Orange vodka
1 splash Triple Sec
1 splash soda water
Serve over ice.
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1-2 ounces Smirnoff Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka
1 splash Triple Sec
1 splash soda water
Serve over ice.
The commercial citrus juicer is a gift for the woman or man who has everything and enjoys entertaining.
Health Benefits of Ocean Air
According to studies by the Lung Institute, breathing salt air can improve lung function lessening the need for antibiotics. It thins mucus, eases sinus pressure, reduces coughing, and the risk of asthma attacks.
The sea air’s “negatively charged hydrogen ions” promote oxygen absorption improving mood, energy, creativity, and sleep.
Health Benefits of Ocean Saltwater
Floating in the ocean increases blood flow throughout our body and drives oxygen to the brain making us attentive and energized.
The sea’s magnesium moisturizes our skin, and the antibacterial properties improve ailments such as eczema and psoriasis. According to sources, the ocean boosts our immunity and helps us sleep.
Swimming in cold water releases hormones that elevate our spirit and energy levels and reduce inflammation. In addition to burning calories, a regular cold water dip can release dopamine and upgrade our physical condition.
Warm sea water opens our pores enabling us to detoxify and absorb the ocean’s elements. In places where we see the ocean in shades of blue, it calms some but energizes others.
Increased Physical Activity
Seaside living is conducive to activities like tennis, golfing, running, biking, swimming, surfing, exploring, and walking. Exercise strengthens our bodies and reduces health risks like obesity, some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and depression, helping us live longer.
Our bodies produce vitamin D from the sun’s UVB rays. Its anti-inflammatory properties may prevent cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and elevate our disposition. By spending ten to thirty minutes in the sun per day, we can improve our wellbeing. Daily exposure enables the body to store up to 60 days of the vitamin that we lack during northern winters. Darker or sunscreen-coated skin may need longer exposure to realize the rewards.
If you are visiting a seaside resort, you should have your choice of high-protein-low-fat-fresh seafood along with fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy dining.
Years ago, an acquaintance said that he had moved seaside because it was his wife’s “power zone.” They knew that inhaling the oxygen-rich-salt air and wading in the lilting waves was a distraction from worries and elevated their wellness and demeanor.
To enjoy some of the perks at home, rub Epsom salts on your skin to Polish or exfoliate, then add about two cups to a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes to detoxify and enjoy the advantages of magnesium.
A List of Interesting Facts About The Breakers, Palm Beach
Henry Morrison Flagler opened The Breakers in 1896, and his heirs still own and run the hotel.
The Breakers Had Burned Down Twice
The Breakers, formerly the Palm Beach Inn until 1901, burned down in 1903 and 1925. The first fire ignited during renovations to expand the building, and the second fire originated in a room where a curling iron was supposedly left on by the Chicago Mayor’s wife.
The architects of the Waldorf Astoria in New York also designed The Breakers that opened in 1926, that we know today. They based their plan on Villa Medici in Rome.
In the early 1900’s, guests included the Rockefeller’s, J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and the Vanderbilts to name a few. Today, presidents, nobility, businessmen, politicians, and movie stars still visit the world-renowned hotel.
While dining or sipping cocktails at the oceanfront Seafood Bar, unsuspecting patrons may flinch when they get the Impression of something sliding under their plate or wiggling beneath their drink. The bar is a saltwater aquarium that contains marine life including fish, eels, sponges, coral and more.
The Breakers is detail oriented:
- In the Palm Courtyard, orchids are attached to the trunks of palm trees and appear to grow from the bark.
- Crystal chandeliers hang in the lobby as well as the hallways.
- The receptionists and concierge wear Lilly Pulitzer making a tropical Impression.
- Fresh flowers adorn the hotel rooms.
- Flowers grow and bloom on The Breakers’ seawall.
More Interesting Facts
In 2009, a trapper stole Amazon parrot chicks from The Breakers resort. When he failed to sell them to a pet store, he abandoned the unharmed chicks at the store, and the owner called the authorities.
The Egyptian Goose is a combination of duck and goose. Many of them live on the Breakers’ property.
The Breakers accommodates children with a family pool, camps, and a Family Entertainment Center. Also, the staff keeps a supply of stuffed animals at the lobby entrance.
Hotel activities including visiting the spa, tennis, golf, nature walks, biking, fitness, water sports, shopping, dining and more. Visit their website for the latest offers.
Black-Eyed Susan Day celebrates Maryland’s state flower and falls on the day before Preakness. Though less crowded, less dressy, and more relaxed than Preakness, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is the second most popular race run at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland.
Three-year-old fillies run 1 1/8 miles contending for the filly Triple Crown. Abel Tasman won the 2017 first jewel in the Kentucky Oaks Stakes at Churchill Downs. The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is the 11th race today, and Belmont Park hosts the final race, the Acorn Stakes.
The famous Pimlico Black-Eyed Susan drink recipe follows:
1 part Makers Mark Bourbon
1 part DeKuyper Peachtree
1 part Effen Vodka
2 parts Orange Juice
2 parts Sour Mix
Shake with ice and strain in a Preakness glass over fresh crushed ice. Garnish with an orange and cherry.
If you aren’t fighting the Preakness crowds, you can watch the race at home and enjoy a Black-Eyed Susan.
Those killed during the invasion of Normandy and subsequent battles rest at Normandy American Cemetery in France. Ten formerly temporary graveyards formed this burial ground. The chartreuse grass is weedless and meticulous. The soldiers are painstakingly buried directly below their markers that face west toward the United States. Their white marble headstones total 9,387: 9,238 Latin crosses and 149 Stars of David. The headstones do not have birth dates, just death dates making them timeless. The cemetery stretches 172.5 acres overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel where casualties totaled about 2,400 US troops.
The allied forces began their D-Day Normandy invasion by air and sea on June 6, 1944, and their success marked the beginning of the war’s end. They used deceptive radio intelligence to steer the Germans away from Normandy to Calais, that was farther north. Under Gen. George Patton’s guidance, film studios constructed fake barracks and tents, landing crafts, imitation tanks and trucks, and placed them in Dover, that was across The Channel from Calais. The attack location was believable because Calais and Dover were on opposite banks of the narrowest part of the waterway. To further confuse the Germans, the Allies dropped simulated airborne dummies with artillery recordings and bombs attached to them in locations far from Normandy.
On D-Day, poor weather conditions and high seas caught the Germans off guard. They assumed that the Allies would wait for improved conditions before invading. Some German officers believed that the Normandy invasion was a ruse to distract them from Calais, and ignored it. Others continued their parties with the locals. Also, German Field Marshall Rommel was away with his wife.
Strong tides caused allied ships to drift from their targeted landing position. When troops arrived on the beach in heavy wet clothes and laden with ammunition and supplies, they faced German artillery and weaponry, some fired from bunkers. The Allies navigated metal beach obstructions, ditches, hedgerows, mines and scaled high precipices. If they saw livestock grazing in open fields, soldiers knew that the area was free of explosives.
Before dropping the paratroopers, pilots faced thick clouds, and many airborne missed their targets finding themselves navigating the terrain alone. The soldiers, loaded with ammunition and supplies, sprained muscles or broke their bones on impact. Others were shot down by Germans, drowned, perished in fire from bombs, or trees and poles caught their chutes. Paratrooper John Steele is remembered today for landing on the steeple at Sainte Mere Eglise church. The Germans captured him, and he escaped. This chart lists the fatalities, casualties and missing for the US Airborne in the Cotentin Peninsula.
On D-Day, the Allies landed 160,000 troops including 73,000 Americans. The Allies endured 10,000 casualties. During the entire campaign, from June 6, 1944, to August 21, 1944, the two million allied troops in Northern France sustained more than 226,386 casualties: 72,911 were missing or killed, and 153,475 wounded. The German’s suffered 240,000 injuries and deaths, and 200,000 were apprehended.
In the Normandy cemetery, the Walls of the Missing list 1,557 names. Among those are 750 Americans killed on 12/24/44, when a German submarine torpedoed the S.S. Leopoldville killing both Americans and British.
Interred in the cemetery, officers and the enlisted lie next to one another with no exception for rank. Thirty-three of 45 sets of brothers, and a father and son lay side by side. Others interred include three Medal of Honor recipients, 307 unknown soldiers, Preston and Robert Niland who inspired Saving Private Ryan, and two sons of President Theodore Roosevelt.
All who suffered and died for our freedom were exceptional. Please honor our fallen soldiers by respecting our American flag.
In response to word prompt: Pink
When we walked the streets of Bayeux, France, we happened upon the light and sound show at the cathedral entitled “RENDEZ-VOUS À LA CATHÉDRALE, LES LUMIÈRES DE LA LIBERTÉ.”
As we listened to ten stories celebrating France’s journey to freedom and liberty, colors painted the “Tree of Liberty” and the Bayeux Cathedral in iridescent hues of red, pink, purple, green, blue, white, orange and gold.
In the French language, these stories commemorated the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the Allied landings, the freedom of the press, the freedom to love,” and more.
The show was a pleasant addition to our Normandy trip. This year’s light show runs from 7/11/17 to 8/26/17.
My daughter and I exercised then split a Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate topped with whipped cream. What could have been better than chocolate and family?
Located in New York City and Boca Raton, Florida, Serendipity restaurants offer a full menu, but their “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is their specialty. Unlike a chocolate milkshake, the cocoa delivers a dark, rich flavor and ice provides refreshment. I like this recipe because other variations include ice cream.
Unexpectedly, we felt rejuvenated after indulging and that allowed us to skip a heavy dinner. Was it serendipity?
Daily Post Prompt: Better
When I was in my twenties, I had a ninety-pound Labrador retriever, Bob, who, on quick trips, rode in the passenger seat of my MGB convertible. With the top down, we went to the post office. The lot was packed, and when a car backed out from a front space, I zipped in, happy that I could watch Bob from inside the building. While I waited in line, I shifted my weight and my heart raced when I saw a man standing next to the driver’s side of my car. Did he hit my car? Did Bob bark at him? Would he try to steal my dog?
I continuously glanced over my shoulder at the man while the clerk waited on me, and I felt relieved when we were done. I gathered my belongings and hurried outside noting the cars lined up out to the street waiting to park. When I approached my car, I saw that Bob was sitting behind the wheel. I suspected that he was attempting to imitate the alpha, but I knew that he couldn’t drive a stick shift. The gray-haired man, with his arms folded over his chest, watched me walk toward them.
I smiled hoping to disarm the man, literally. He said, ” I had to meet the driver of this car.”
” Oops, did I take too long?”
“I had been waiting for a parking spot for over ten minutes.” Was he judging me?
“I saw the back of this person’s head hoping that he would start the car and pull out. I thought that he was rude dawdling on a jammed lot. I blared my horn.” Here it comes, I thought.
“The horn’s blast must have startled your dog. A big brown head snapped around, and he stared at me. I never imagined that I was waiting for an animal to move the car. I had to laugh that I blew my horn at a retriever.”
He extended his weathered hand, and I shook it. We laughed and I thanked him for waiting to tell me the story. I smiled on the way home, but I drove, good try Bob.
The Leonberger originated in the 1800s when the alderman of Leonberg, Germany, bred a Landseer Newfoundland with a St. Bernard and mated later generations with the Great Pyrenees. Sources say that the alderman wanted a dog that resembled the lion on the Leonberg crest.
The Leonberger was considered a “Rare Breed’ until recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010. If you are interested in more information about AKC breeders of merit, please contact the Leonberger Club of America.
Leonberger enthusiasts, trainers, owners, and breeders had traveled hundreds of miles to attend the 2017 Leonberger Club of America National Specialty, Old Bay Leos. We spotted dozens of these dogs, some well over 140 pounds, at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Baltimore Hunt Valley. Their black-masked expressions and flowing coats created a stunning spectacle. Both adults and children showed these “gentle giants.”
Cantina 76 Restaurant Review Article
A group of friends from Columbia with a love for travel and food established Cantina 76 in Columbia, South Carolina. Currently, the restaurant has three locations, two in Columbia and one in Greenville.
Inside, customers can watch TV and dine at the high top and low top tables or sit at the bar. Small lights string around the perimeter; and stars and metal lights hang from the ceiling creating an uncontrived atmosphere. Outside, pansies flow from hanging baskets, and tables flank the restaurant on two sides. Though the tables are under a metal awning, customers can still enjoy the sun. Cantina 76 has a come-as-you-are atmosphere. Casual to dressy attire is acceptable.
Cantina 76 features signature margaritas, tacos, enchiladas, salads and more. They tout an atmosphere where customers can relax and dine on Mexican-influenced cuisine made with fresh ingredients. They pitch premium tequila and creative margaritas. The Cantina 76 menu offers a variety of soft tacos on flour tortillas, but hard corn tacos are also available. Chicken Pesto, Teriyaki Chicken, Peruvian Shrimp, Barbecue Brisket, and Fish are a sampling of their 12 taco creations. In addition, they offer weekly specials.
We sat outside where dogs lay under their owners’ tables, and we began with Tres Hombres Sampler. We dipped crispy salted tortilla chips in queso, salsa, and guacamole. The warm queso’s mild cheese tasted rich and creamy, and a touch of minced green pepper gave it a slight crunch and sweetness. The salsa had a tangy kick with a hint of lime. Small pieces of avocado, onion, tomato and garlic added flavor and interest to the guacamole. It was a great start.
I tried the Barbecue Shrimp Taco. Sautéed onions and feta accompanied perfectly seared shrimp topped with a Chipotle barbecue sauce. The sweet, spicy sauce and the feta’s saltiness added a welcoming punch.
The Barbecue Brisket Taco sweetened with honey barbecue tasted down-home. Pico de gallo lightened the sauce and balanced the sweetness. We loved it.
The Traditional Taco included chili-spiced-ground beef, melted cheese, lettuce, and tomato. There was no sauce. The ground beef tasted lean, and the taco was ordinary.
Everything was fresh and the tacos were not overstuffed which made them easy to handle and not too filling.
Instead of dessert, I tried the Cantina Margarita. Salt rimmed the glass that contained tequila, plenty of fresh lime juice, low-sugar-agave nectar, and a quartered-half lime. Agave nectar blended with lime tasted sweet and refreshing.
I would recommend Cantina 76 because they offer quality food and selection at reasonable prices.
Location: 1301 Main St., Columbia
Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Monday – Wednesday; 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Thursday – Saturday; closed Sunday; no reservations
Cost: Tacos start at $2.99.
Info: 803-543-3279 http://www.cantina76.com
Open seating for Southwest Airlines
Seat assignments are not part of Southwest Airlines’ procedure; instead, passengers select their own seats based on their boarding position. Southwest uses A-C and 1-60+ to determine the commuter pecking order. The person with A 1 boards first and C 60+ enters last. Group A passengers select the best seats and have access to empty overhead bins. Often, Southwest bases this A status on cost.
“Wanna Get Away,” “Anytime,” and “Business Select” fare comparison
This chart compares the three fares for a random booking from Philadelphia to Atlanta. The lowest, “Wanna Get Away,” is nonrefundable, but per eligibility, credit may be issued toward a future reservation. However, Wanna Get Away may cost hundreds less that the “Anytime,” fare. “Business Select” is the priciest but guarantees priority emplaning with the A 1 – A 15 group.
Five Southwest money-saving tips and travel tricks
- Within 24 hours before departure, Southwest passengers can conveniently check in online with the Southwest mobile app or on their computer; or they can pay $15 for EarlyBird Check-In, and the airline assigns boarding groups 36 hours before departure. With Earlybird, if the traveler pays a higher fare, Southwest gives that passenger a higher boarding status.
- EarlyBird Check-In does not guarantee an “A” boarding zone. I purchased EarlyBird and received group B. Unknowingly, my husband’s administrator checked me in 24 hours before departure, and I received an A. Therefore, you may get a better seat if you check yourself in.
- To maximize boarding priority while saving money, purchase the ticket at the lowest price, and pay $30-$40 to upgrade to an “A” position at the gate. I was flying on a packed flight, and I had group B boarding assignment. I upgraded at the gate to A 6. They apparently save A positions hoping to sell them at the last minute. Unfortunately, if the flight is filled, you may not be able to change your standing.
- Southwest doesn’t charge fees to change your flight, like their competition.
- Sign up for Click ‘N Save to receive emails for the latest Southwest travel deals for flights, hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages.
I hope that these money-saving tips improve your travel experience.
Related Posts and Sites:
For a Florida trip, I made my first mistake by not taking my own travel tricks and tips advice. I had packed a large suitcase instead of the size accepted onboard airlines. I was flying alone on Southwest, and I wanted to avoid asking for help lifting my carry-on to the overhead bin. Instead, I checked my medium bag that was loaded with books, shoes, and clothes.
When I tried to check my luggage curbside, the baggage handler weighed it and said that it was two pounds over the 50-pound limit, and I had two options: I could open my suitcase on the sidewalk and let the travelers waiting in line view my underwear collection or pay $75.
“What are two pounds?”
“A pair of jeans.”
I had set my bag near the curb and unzipped it while everyone watched the “Dorothyadele Victoria’s Secret Show.” I was happy that my husband wasn’t there to glare, then roll his eyes and ask if I had ever traveled or packed a bag before.
Luckily, my suitcase was not a merged mess when I had unzipped the left compartment and pulled out my camera, makeup bag, and books.
I unzipped the other side where I had my Nike running shoes wedged. In front of my audience, I pulled out a shoe and twirled it in my fingers testing its weight. I decided that it was too light and shoved it back in and zipped my case.
When I returned to the attendant, he asked if I had removed some items. I lifted my bulging beach bag as proof. Without weighing it, he accepted my suitcase, and I wondered if removing the books would have been enough.
I headed inside the terminal lugging my tote that contained an iPad, an iPhone, a writing journal, socks, a purse, sunglasses, a book, and the articles that I had pulled out of my suitcase. I was happy that I didn’t have that black and white Nike waving out the top.
When I approached the unsmiling TSA PreCheck agent and presented my boarding pass, she smirked, grabbed it, and said, “This is a mobile boarding pass, get back in line over there and get the correct one. You have time.” I felt like she resented that I had skipped the long line as a TSA PreCheck traveler.
“What about the boarding pass on my phone?”
“You can use that, but step out of line… honey.”
I scanned through my emails looking for the Southwest boarding pass confirmation. I found it, and I sweated and wondered if she would reject it. I stepped up and presented it to her. She scanned it, and to me, it looked exactly like the one that she had confiscated two minutes before. I proceeded through security and made another mistake.
At Subway, I ordered a breakfast sandwich. When I had set my bag on the counter to pay, I knocked the metal coffee-creamer receptacle off. It bounced and clanged on the tile floor. The other customers and I watched the empty creamers roll around. The clerk didn’t seem to trust me to pick them up; he quickly gathered them and placed the creamers back in the container out of my reach. Since I delayed everyone, I apologized and paid my bill.
I boarded my flight and sat in front of a screaming baby for 2 1/2 hours whom I heard regurgitate. Though I felt sorry for the child, I smiled when I thought about my morning mishaps.
My husband had joined me on vacation and we flew together on the return flight. When we had packed, I had placed several of my items in his small suitcase to avoid an overweight bag, hoping to dodge another Dorothyadele Airport Trunk Show.
As we waited in the airport baggage line, I watched the lady in front of me hoist her bag on the scale and tip it at 65 pounds. She left the line and rearranged her contents between two suitcases. We approached the handler and my husband, the gentlemen, pulled my bag, though he told the agent that he had my luggage, not his. I held my breath when the clerk heaved my bag on the scale and I watched it hit 50.5 pounds. He waved us through.
In addition to our standard tips, we paid an extra $15 to the Hertz bus driver and the hotel valet just to lift my bag. Consequently one of the best money-saving-travel tips is to pack light.
Years ago, while I was taking a boat from Terre-de-Haut Island, Iles des Saintes, to Guadeloupe, I was horrified when midway, the captain dumped plastic garbage bags overboard. Though it was legal, I thought about the ramifications for sea life.
Today, when I walk the beach, I pick up trash that visitors leave behind. I believe that vacationers don’t realize that a plastic cup, child’s shovel, or deflated balloons cause ocean pollution and a possible agonizing death or illness for seabirds and sea animals like this gentle manatee.
I am posting these photos hoping that this mammal will inspire travelers to keep their beaches, oceans, waterways, etc. clean. Happy travels.
The following are some of my best tips and a few tricks for a better travel experience.
Cost Saving Ideas for Hotel Stays
- Check hotel websites like trivago.com for the best deals. During the off-season, I had booked a room at the Waldorf Astoria and used a site that compared hotel rates. We received a deep discount on a room that was two doors from The Elizabeth Taylor Suite. I checked my bill to ensure that my confirmed price was correct.
- After reviewing the online prices, call the hotel and ask for their best deal.
- If you are a repeat guest, tell the person making your reservation. They usually try to accommodate returning customers.
- American Express Fine Hotel and Resorts Program offers a daily $100 credit and breakfast for two; and when available: early check-in, late checkout, and free upgrades. Sometimes these benefits offset a higher room rate. Call in advance and check the upgrade possibilities, and book at the lower rate.
- Instead of eating breakfast in the hotel, ask the concierge for a reputable local diner. In addition to leaving your hotel room early, you will likely get a better value and a good meal.
- Take your drink of choice to your hotel room instead of using the bar or room service.
The Convenience of Renting Condominiums, Apartments, or Villas
- If traveling with more than three people, it is usually more economical to rent a condo or an apartment than book a hotel suite or two separate rooms. Also, the ability to refrigerate food is a plus.
- Ensure that your rental has a washer and dryer and pack light.
- Try to meet the owner. We had a situation where we had to leave a prepaid rental early. The owner worked with us so that we could use our missed days later. As a result, we are loyal customers.
Last Minute Travel Bargains
- Sometimes, we make last-minute travel decisions, and we have found great deals. For example, I had reserved a place two weeks before a trip during high season that would have been out of our price range. Though I was looking for a condo, the online agent found an available house and the owner reduced the price considerably to make sure that we took it.
- Two days before another trip, while I considered two apartments from different agencies, the condominium manager gave us a $1,000 discount to close the sale.
- I also had booked airline flights days before travel and received a better rate than my husband who booked the same trip a month in advance. However, there is no guarantee.
Dining/Theater Reservation Tricks
- If you are unable to reserve theater seats or another venue, ask American Express travel to check availability. We have made reservations that were presumably sold out.
Traveling and Flying With Children
- If you are flying with a toddler, buy a bag of Dollar Store items that he/she can open on the plane. This trick has helped avoid stress for us and anyone nearby.
- Travel with your kids, even if they are adults, because they urge you to try new activities, and family time is invaluable.
Preparation: Start to finish: 3 hours 45 minutes (45minutes active)
I love eggplant parmesan, but I don’t fry it in high-fat olive oil. To make a lighter, healthy eggplant parmesan recipe, I combined the two recipes below to create an easy baked version for the slow cooker. My husband loved it.
My Crock-Pot is 6 quarts so you may need to adapt your recipe for a smaller size. Also, when a recipe calls for marinara or spaghetti sauce, I usually triple the amount and use most of it, and freeze the remainder.
Prepare the eggplant by slicing it in 1-inch rings and salt on both sides placing it on paper towels for 15-30 minutes to draw out moisture and bitterness. Then rinse in a colander.
I used the following marinara sauce recipe, or you can buy premade.
Marinara sauce recipe (7 1/2 cups)
Two 28 oz. tomatoes crushed or chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 medium onion chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
pinch of sugar
pepper flakes to taste
Cook onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, for about five minutes, add tomatoes and seasonings and simmer for 20 minutes.
2 large eggplant sliced and prepared as above
2 eggs whisked and add a few tablespoons of water, to extend the eggs if necessary
2-4 cups Italian breadcrumbs, depending on eggplant size, I start with 2 cups and add more as needed
12 oz. grated-reduced-fat mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan
Dip eggplant in eggs then Italian bread crumbs. Line baking sheets with eggplant. Bake for 12 minutes in a preheated 350 F oven, turning after 6 minutes or until browned.
Layer sauce, eggplant, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses three times. On final layer top with sauce. Cook on high in slow cooker for 3-4 hours or 6-8 on low.
The eggplant tastes lighter than the fried version and the tomato flavor is more intense. I would love to know your thoughts. If you enjoy my “skinny” recipe, please click “like.”
When I edit my published posts and find grammatical and punctuation errors, it embarrasses me. Therefore, when I received an email with 50 percent off of a yearly Grammarly subscription, I purchased the app.
Grammarly bills themselves as “the world’s leading automated proofreader,” and I wish that I would have bought it years ago. The premium plan proposes a “7-day money-back guarantee” with 250+ grammar, spell checks, and words use corrections; and includes a free extension that edits writing on the internet. In addition, they offer free plans.
The following are the premium plan’s pros and cons, that may help you decide if it’s worth the money.
- Easy to import documents: copy/paste or import from files
- Spelling, grammar and style corrections with an explanation
- Plagiarism detection
- Synonym suggestions
- Firefox, Safari, and Chrome may use the Grammarly extension to edit Facebook, Hotmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogger, Google, Gmail, Tumblr, Pinterest, Yahoo Mail and WordPress
- The cost is expensive: yearly is $139.95, quarterly $59.95, and monthly $29.95
- Support is online only
- Grammarly add-in for Microsoft Office must be used with Windows. Add-ins are not available for Word or Pages on Mac
- Safari extension isn’t always reliable, I had to reload it a few times and change settings on my computer
- Not a substitution for a live proofreader
- Not mobile friendly
It works for me because I like to learn and understand the rationale behind my errors. Depending on your confidence in your writing, you may not need it. If you do, check out their plans.
Also, please feel free to comment, if you catch my mistakes.
It’s never intentional if my husband injures himself while assisting me. For instance, one day after shopping, I returned home and found him sitting at the kitchen table staring at me with cold, bleary eyes. I asked him what was wrong.
He said, “Though I am not big on gardening, you wanted me to turn your compost pile, and I thought that I would get some exercise and help you. It didn’t work out well.”
“Thanks for aerating my garden soil, but your face is flushed. What happened and why are you giving me a mean look? Why are you breathing hard?”
“While I was raking, I hit a yellowjacket nest. Bees swarmed and stung my neck, face, arms, and legs. They even got into my shorts and up my tee-shirt sleeves. I think that I was stung over 20 times. I ran up the deck stairs to escape them and found a locked door. I ran back down the stairs, around the side to the front door, in the house, and up the steps. With my clothes on, I jumped in the shower to remove the bees that continued to sting me. If you have any questions, I left several in the drain for you to count. Why did you lock the door anyway?”
” I’m sorry, but latching the door is a habit. Did the dog didn’t get stung?”
“No, he’s okay.”
“Thank goodness, but I hope that you are alright too.”
I gave my husband some Benadryl, and then to ensure that he was not exaggerating, I counted about 12 bees in the tub. We rode to the emergency room, and the doctors gave him a shot of adrenaline that made him anxious for a few hours, but he survived another episode caused by dorothyadele.
Since I didn’t want a divorce, I never asked him to work with my dirt compound again. Before I raked it, I waited until the bees were hibernating because they were not stinging me.
Now, I have a barrel composter that I turn to mix the soil. It’s a shame that my husband learned the hard way.
I was naïve the first time that I had shopped on Canal Street in Manhattan. I wasn’t aware that children, sometimes chained, made counterfeit purses in China and were paid a pittance. I also didn’t know that I would mingle with purse thieves, pickpockets, con men, con women, gang members, human traffickers, and counterfeiters wanted by Homeland Security.
Canal Street whirled with activity the day my daughter and I shopped for a faux-designer purse for her. Shoppers ducked in and out of stores haggling over prices for counterfeit designer merchandise: watches, bags, sunglasses, perfume, electronic equipment, jewelry, clothing and more. Everyone wanted a deal.
Two women stood in front of a merchandise-packed store and whispered to us, “Gucci, Gucci, Prada?” Why were they whispering? Were the police around?
My daughter said, “Coach.”
The women whisked us through the store between shabby curtains and down dirty basement steps. Gucci, Prada, Coach, Hermes, Channel, Louis Vuitton were a sampling of their counterfeit wares that loaded the room. Many of these bags sold on Canal Street for under $100, but if the bags were genuine, they would retail in the hundreds and some in the thousands. Luckily, my daughter couldn’t find what she wanted, and we left.
As we headed down the street, another vendor hustled us. I heard, “Channel? Loui Vuitton?”
My daughter said “Coach.”
The woman said, “Follow me.”
She walked ahead of us for several blocks while talking on a walkie-talkie and approached a man and told us to follow him. We walked a few blocks, and he handed us off to another man. We followed him for several blocks, and he turned down an alley. I was concerned that they didn’t want us to recognize them, but now I was worried. I tried to get my daughter’s attention who was right on the man’s heels and didn’t seem to think twice about following him down an alley.
He approached a blue van, opened the hatch, and before I knew it, my daughter had climbed in the back. I imagined someone slamming the door, and the van taking off. I believe that I would’ve been too stunned to get the tag number.
Suppose they trafficked her?
“Get out of there now!” I said.
She reluctantly left the van. A man who had watched this scene approached and said that he was worried when he saw my daughter enter the truck because he knew that the police were surveilling the street for gangs who controlled the counterfeit, drug and human trafficking markets.
How does counterfeiting work?
Alice Hines in the Village Voice wrote about a 2012 case when a group of criminals purchased legitimate designer goods and shipped them to China. Months later, counterfeit designer boots, purses, and coats arrived in the U.S.
Mills in China manufacture bags for less than $2 each and they sell them to distributors for $10 – $30. They ship them to the U.S. hidden among other merchandise, or they mislabel them. Street vendors sell them for $50 – $100 per item. Most vendors are impoverished, and some are homeless. They sell their wares on the streets from trash bags, suitcases, cars or vans, or from stores or warehouses. The higher-tier criminals can make millions.
Why Don’t They Arrest Them?
If caught, street vendors are arrested and fined, though they could get a year in prison, they often return to the streets. The maximum jail term is four years for counterfeit possession valued at $1,000 or more, and 15 years for $100,000. Also, it is not illegal for the customers to buy fakes.
Fake designer perfume seems to be the riskiest item for consumers because bottles may contain chemicals like antifreeze. In spring 2016, Homeland Security confiscated a shipment headed to retailers and online sites.
The best bet is to buy your merchandise from a reputable dealer or do without. That’s my plan.
Below are the links that I used for my article:
The first eighteen months that we lived in our home, I had traipsed barefoot through the basement, using the stairway light, and the sun that streamed through the window to guide me. One night, I turned the corner and nearly stepped on something, consequently I have never walked through the basement in the dark again.
I flipped on the light, and a snake lay on the floor in front of me. We eyed each other for several minutes deciding our next move. When I looked closer, I noticed that he had a pattern on his back and a triangle-shaped head. I guessed that he was possibly poisonous.
However, there was one thing that I knew for sure: Snake handling was not in my wife/mother employment contract and removing one was a man’s job. Since my husband has always loved a challenge, the logical solution was to present my husband with the gift of letting him determine how to get rid of the snake. When my husband returned home from work, ready to relax, I would surprise him with his next job.
The thought of getting close to the snake unnerved me, but I decided that I would put a large bucket over it, and I would weigh it down with several hundred bricks. Though I didn’t want to let our squatter out of my sight, I left to get a bucket. I chuckled wondering how my husband would remove the snake. Would he slide the bucket? Would he lift the bucket and take a chance of the snake striking?
Naturally, when I returned, my husband’s friend was gone. Now he was a full-time resident. I had lain awake the next few nights –or years— wondering if it would slither up the steps to our bedroom. Suppose it slid up the side of our bed? What then?
The following spring, our housemate had donated his skin to decorate his living quarters, and I couldn’t help but wonder, did it belong to him or one of his siblings?
Though I have had our home inspected and sealed, this was the first of several snake episodes. Each family member has had the joy of encountering at least one.
During spring and summer, bluebirds hatch regularly in birdhouses in my neighbor’s yard, who uses live mealworms to attract them. Her success motivates me to try it too, so I keep a mealworm stash in my basement refrigerator during the warm months.
I initially place the worms in a small cup on top of a bluebird feeder that sets on my deck railing. When the bluebirds find them, I put the mealworms inside the feeder and they visit it.
Bluebird houses perch on five-foot-high-metal poles in an open area in my yard with baffles clamped below to prevent snakes and animals from climbing and invading their homes. Though they have attempted nests in the houses, wrens and sparrows usually evict them before their eggs hatch.
My best bluebird attraction is my heated birdbath. It supplies fresh water on freezing days when other sources are scarce. Birds flock to the birdbath and entertain us with their activity and color on cold winter days.
Not only have the birds entertained us, but the mealworms have too. One day, my sister-in-law opened my basement refrigerator looking for a drink, and she was curious about the contents of the burlap sack on the shelf. When she opened the mealworm bag, I had heard a loud scream, and I knew that she had found my special stockpile. I guess that mealworms were the last thing that she expected to find in my refrigerator!
My husband called my cell phone and said, “Your dog, B, escaped the yard. I found him sitting on the hill in your garden outside the fence, and I can’t leave for work until he is in.”
This was a first, and I wondered why he had escaped, and I asked my husband to try to get him back in the fence. My husband had gone outside to drag B in and found him sitting next to a dead possum. The dog was panting and smiling like he found the golden urn.
My husband called back and said, “I think that he may have killed a possum, because I thought that I saw blood when I reached over it to grab B. However, the possum warden refused to leave his departed playmate, so he’s still in your garden.”
Bad thoughts swirled through my head. If he, the dog, not my husband, had tasted blood, was he bloodthirsty? Would he kill other animals? Suppose he kills a dog or cat? Would our kids and their friends be safe in our yard? I decided that when I got home, I would call the vet and ask these questions. I may have to get rid of my dog.
When I had returned home my husband said, “The dog is in the backyard. I held a piece of steak in front of him, and I was about six inches away from that big possum, when I grabbed his collar to him drag away.”
I went to see my dog hoping that my husband was wrong. I lifted his lips and checked his teeth and gums looking for signs of blood. I also ran my hands over his body checking for wounds. I couldn’t find anything. Maybe the possum had already been dead or died quickly fighting a 140 pound dog.
The next morning, my husband grabbed a shovel and bag to dispose of the remains. I said, “Why don’t you just throw it in the woods so an animal will eat it?”
“No, I’m taking it off our property, because I don’t want B to exhume the body.” I understood his rationale, because the dog was enamored with his numb soul mate, and he might break the fence to visit it.
After my husband collected his mortuary supplies and donned heavy gloves, he headed out to transport the deceased. I had no intention of assisting him as a pallbearer or attending the viewing. Within five minutes, my husband returned.
“Where’s the possum?”
” Gone away.”
The possum fooled us and I was relieved that my dog wasn’t a bloodthirsty killer. I couldn’t help but think about my husband’s possible reaction if the possum had moved when he was reaching across it to grab the dog. That would have been worth filming.
My dog trainer teaches dog obedience and owner etiquette. I have learned the following three tips:
- Dogs on a leash are on the defensive, therefore it is not a good idea for leashed dogs to mingle.
- Retractable leashes can confuse a dog because jerking the dog back is a correction and without training, they don’t understand the correction, so it’s not fair.
- You should try to protect your puppy from bad experiences because it could affect its life.
I failed my puppy on this last point because he was attacked four times, though he was leashed. From these attacks, I had learned that some dog owners don’t understand or practice dog etiquette. Since I have a large dog, this concerns me.
When our puppy was five months old, our daughter was walking him through a wooded park and an unleashed husky tore around the corner and ripped puppy’s face causing him to yelp and wine. The couple with the husky watched while my daughter pulled the dog off puppy. They didn’t apologize and seemed to find it humorous.
The second time, I was walking our eighteen-month-old puppy on a semi-crowded street. I stopped to talk to a friend while my dog sat at my side. I assumed that puppy was safe sitting close to me. However, a guy with a pit bull released his retractable leash and his dog charged. The dogs were face to face growling, biting and screaming. When we separated the animals, the guy said, “Sorry,” and walked away.
A few months later, I was walking puppy, who was about 110 pounds but still impressionable, when a dog bolted off a neighbor’s deck and attacked him. I believe that the dog had probably escaped because the owner had run over to grab his dog and apologized profusely. Sometimes, things are unavoidable.
A few weeks later, a tiny dog dashed off its property and grabbed my dog’s neck. The owners watched until I yelled at them to get their dog, and I was surprised that they didn’t react immediately especially because of the difference in the dogs’ sizes.
As a result of these attacks, I have had my dog neutered, and when I walk him I try to avoid other dogs. If I see someone with a dog near us, I walk him to the far side of the street and keep him close to me. Invariably, the person across the street releases their retractable leash and their dog approaches us. Ironically, the owner usually pretends that it is the dog releasing the leash. In addition, these are probably the people who allow their dogs to stretch their leash across the street making it a hazard to pedestrians, runners, and bikers.
Sometimes, I head down a side street to avoid other dogs, and the owner and dog will stand by that side street waiting for my return. I don’t understand why they insist on their dog meeting mine.
My favorite story is when I had been avoiding a couple and their dog for days. When they saw puppy and I walk, they would approach us while releasing their dog’s retractable leash, and I would pivot and walk in the opposite direction. I suspect that they were elated when they spotted our son walking our dog. They brought their dog over to him and the leashes entangled. Can you imagine what could have happened if one of the dogs become aggressive?
These encounters have made me tense and watchful when I walk my dog, and he probably senses it. I believe that if more dog owners learned dog etiquette, dogs and people would be safer. Therefore, if a dog walker avoids you and your dog, please don’t take it personally.
My husband had to file a mandatory dog bite report for our Leonberger puppy when he was 8-weeks-and-one-day old, and these photos clearly show his mean streak. The top one is his mug shot. Puppy had only spent one night at our house, when he scampered down the front lawn with my husband to get the newspaper.
After my husband picked up the paper, he saw puppy in the middle of the yard joyfully chewing on an unknown object. He hurried over to him and tried to pry his mouth open to remove the object, but puppy was determined not to reveal the prize in his mouth, and he kept his jaws clamped shut like he thought that he was a snapping turtle. With a little maneuvering, my husband finally opened his mouth and nicked his finger on his needle teeth in the process. Can you imagine his glee when he discovered that the coveted treasure was a possum skull? No wonder puppy didn’t want to give up this gem because he probably never had his own skull before.
A few days later, my husband’s finger became infected and he had to go to the medical center to have it treated. Because of a new law, that is more applicable to vicious dogs, he had to file a report indicating that his dog bit him before they would see him. He tried to explain that the puppy was 8 weeks old, but they wouldn’t hear it. He filed the report, and it took two rounds of antibiotics to treat him.
The result of this incident is that the dog must be on his best behavior for the rest of his life because he has a record.
My father had often said, “Those dogs aren’t running my life,” but my sisters and I still laugh, because unbeknownst to him, he and the Great Dane and Dalmatian were part of a chess match. The dogs were the chess masters, and he was their pawn.
My parents usually took the dogs with them when they went to the beach. One day, when my parents were packing their car to leave the beach for my father to go to work; our Dalmatian and Great Dane had slipped out the door and took off. My parents walked and drove the neighborhood for hours, and they finally called the police. It was a sad day when the policeman gave my father the bad news: The dogs had become criminals and they were locked up behind bars.
I would have loved to have heard the conversation between my parents when my father had to drive to the police station that was several miles away and bail them out. Luckily, he was an attorney and visiting clients in jail was nothing new to him. He said that when he saw the jailed dogs, “They looked guilty.” After loading them in the car, my parents headed home. Unfortunately, they were stuck in rush-hour traffic, and my father missed work. The dogs were affecting his job.
Though my father often complained about our pets, I believe that he liked them though they intimidated him. At Christmastime, he saved empty cardboard rolls from the Christmas paper and stacked them in the corner in the family room. Though he would never hurt anyone or anything, when he thought that the dogs were misbehaving, he would grab a cardboard roll and say, “See this!” and the dogs ignored him as usual and continued what they were doing. I guess holding something in his hand taller than the Great Dane made him feel powerful.
We needed a new car, and my father thought that he was buying the family a station wagon. We, us kids, knew that he was buying the dogs a car, though we hadn’t pointed that out to him. The dogs needed room to spread out for long car rides, therefore their requirements dictated what my father drove.
Though my father pretended that he didn’t like our dogs, when the Dalmatian was diagnosed with a terminal illness, my parents drove her to a veterinarian school hours away as a last ditch effort to save her life. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful, but I give my parents credit for making that trip.
Ironically, years later after my mother had passed, and the dogs were gone, my father called me and said, “Dorothyadele, a vagrant has entered my office and said that he is leaving town. He has a golden retriever, Ralph, with him, and he plans to have him euthanized. Should I take him?”
“Absolutely!” I said.
The cycle continued. We never knew the dog’s age, but he was a good companion for my father for about five years until Ralph became ill. I knew that my father liked dogs.
We had grabbed our bags to board our flight from Anegada when a calf sauntered across the fenced airport runway. Emergency staff climbed in a yellow fire truck and drove down the runway to chase the calf away. The staff herded the calf to the other side, not needing to power-wash him with a firehose.
That was excitement on laid-back Anegada, where about 250 people reside on the second largest British Virgin Island. Wild pigs, chickens, and cattle roam freely, while flamingos dine on shrimp in the salt ponds.
Anegada, the drowned island, rises only 28 feet above sea level, and the coral reefs that surround it provide great snorkeling and diving, though hazardous to boaters. Some captains still refuse to sail to Anegada, because over 300 boats had shipwrecked in the shallow water. Today, the channel is marked, but captains are still cautious.
There are no resorts, big hotels or casinos on Anegada, only white sand beaches bordering translucent aquamarine. It is a place to enjoy a cocktail, try the local seafood, and converse with the locals and tourists.
Though we stayed only a day, we spotted two wild pigs scurry into the brush while we had driven the dirt road to Cow Wreck Bar & Grill. From Flamingo Lookout Pond, we saw the flamingos from afar and tried the Anegada grilled lobster and thick conch chowder at The Big Bamboo.
We loved Anegada, and I hope we can return and stay a few nights.
I had used my accumulated points from previous trips and purchased a Business Class seat on the Amtrak Northeast Regional #86 train for a trip on 12/12/16. Per usual, the Amtrak agent that booked my reservation was professional and pleasant.
About an hour into the trip, when I slid the restroom door open and stepped inside, urine and fecal stench made my eyes water. I felt like I was enclosed in a portable potty on a 95-degree afternoon that hadn’t been cleaned since it was used by several men’s sports teams. I returned to my seat without using the facility, and thought about waiting until I reached my destination. Unfortunately, that was not an option, and I forced myself to return to the restroom.
Since this was not the first time that I had encountered dirty restrooms on Amtrak, I wrote them about my experience, and Amtrak responded with an email, that I suspected was a form letter.
It stated that they “realize the importance of providing passengers with clean surroundings,” and that “all restrooms are to be throughly cleaned before customers board the train.” They wrote that my concerns will be reviewed with the Northeast Regional managers.
I hadn’t expected the restrooms to be perfect with travelers boarding and exiting the train, but I believe that had they cleaned the equipment like their letter stated, the restroom wouldn’t have reeked from a putrid odor that seemed to have percolated for days. I hope that in the future, the Northeast Regional managers ensure that most travelers find their restrooms acceptable.
I awoke abruptly around 1 a.m. on December 24, 2013, not thinking about Christmas Eve, but worried that I hadn’t checked the expiration date on my son’s passport for our impending trip on December 27. I knew that his child’s passport expired after five years of the issue date, not 10 like an adult’s.
I quietly slid out of bed and checked the box where I had stored the passports. When I opened my son’s passport, my heart raced, because it had expired.
Since I couldn’t sleep, I checked the U.S. Passports and International Travel website that indicated that some countries will not accept a passport with an expiration date within 60 days of departure. I also learned that processing time for an expedited passport could take days to weeks.
We needed an appointment, and I exhaled loudly when I thought about the improbability of getting one on short notice the day after Christmas. I learned that we could walk-in without an appointment, but if they were busy, there was no guarantee.
The next morning, my worries were validated. I called the Washington office, and they said that they didn’t have any appointments and suggested that I call the Philadelphia office. I called the Philadelphia office, and thankfully they gave us an appointment at 9:00 a.m. on December 26. The representative said that we needed to fill out an application and bring his expired passport with proof of international travel reservations, and they would issue a replacement passport that day.
After checking the documents needed for the passport, I woke my son on December 26 at 6:30 a.m., and we began our drive to Philadelphia.
“Why do we have to leave so early?” he asked.
“Because if there is an accident, or we have a flat tire, or run into Christmas Eve traffic, and miss our appointment, we miss our trip,” I said.
We arrived at the Philadelphia Passport Agency, and I noticed that several people had luggage, and I assumed that they had been turned away at the airport. As we stood in the first line, I sweated thinking about the consequences, if I had not checked his passport expiration date. Also, I worried that somehow I missed a relevant document needed for the renewal.
The agent confirmed our appointment and sent us to the second line. While we waited about 40 minutes, I shifted my weight like a pendulum. Finally, we approached the desk, and that agent accepted our documents and sent us to have my son’s photo taken, where they told us to return at 2 p.m. to collect the passport. We left to explore Philadelphia.
“How lucky are you to tour Philadelphia with your mother on Christmas Eve?” I asked.
“Funny mom,” he said with a slight smile.
We traversed Philadelphia and ate lunch at the historic City Tavern. I loved this unplanned time with my son. Who needed to pack anyway?
When we returned to the U.S. Custom House to pick up his passport, a lady ladened with luggage stood in front of us in line. I heard her tell the custom’s agent that when she checked in at the airport with her family, she learned that her passport had expired. She said that her family had continued their trip, and she was planning to get her passport and meet them that night if she could get a flight.
I thought, what a terrible way to start a vacation, knowing that could have been us.
The previous link includes the recipe and the story about how Pusser’s owner had enjoyed the drink at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke. Determined to discover the secret recipe, he took a Painkiller back to his boat and then to his home on Tortola to analyze the contents.
2 oz – 4 0z Pusser’s Rum
4 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz cream of coconut
Fresh grated nutmeg
Add liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into a big glass or goblet filled with ice. Grate fresh nutmeg on top and enjoy!
Though this is Pusser’s recipe and some bars and restaurants premix the drink, we prefer that it is made from scratch and the rum poured on top.
Our top 16 reasons we visit Virgin Gorda, BVI.
1) Customs and immigration usually take less than ten minutes.
2) Crowds are limited:
Cruise ships must anchor and shuttle passengers on tenders.
Only small planes and helicopters can land on the airport runway.
3) Take off, landing, and flying in a small plane is an adventure, and occasionally you can copilot.
4) Locals greet travelers with a smile and seem to appreciate tourism.
5) The island is not commercialized: Colorful homes and businesses dot the island, and there are no chain hotels or obtuse structures.
6) White sand beaches usually have a scattering of people unless a cruise ship is anchored, or tourists are visiting from other islands.
7) Coral reefs provide great snorkeling.
8) The crime rate is low.
9) While driving, you don’t see many cars, therefore tailgating is rare.
10) There are no red lights and few stop signs.
11) Restaurants feature everything from fresh grilled lobster, sushi, barbecue, grilled steaks, pizza and more.
12) Casual attire is acceptable almost everywhere.
13) Many visit Virgin Gorda specifically to explore the beauty of The Baths where overlapping boulders bulge out of the land and water, providing a granite maze where tourists trek through caves and pools of this natural wonder.
14) Mountain roads offer a challenging workout with views of shimmering royal blue water and boulder-studded mountains.
15) Hiking to the highest part of the island, Gorda Peak, takes about 35 minutes. At the top, climbers ascend a double-tiered ladder to a platform with a magnificent vista of the BVI.
16) Visiting other British or US Virgin Islands by ferry, boat, or plane is easy, and a must do.
Goats bleating and roosters crowing, some clueless about dawn’s arrival, awakened us each morning in Virgin Gorda. Skittering anoles, singing frogs and dancing butterflies made us feel like we were in a sanctuary safe for all. Unfortunately, that changed today.
I was sitting on the porch sipping coffee when I spotted a pickup truck driving down the dirt trail adjacent to our rental. It stopped. Someone perched a rifle, or similar firearm, out the passenger’s window. Lights flashed as four shots blasted from the gun muzzle through the thick brush, just yards from our residence. Goats bleated, and one screamed louder than the rest for longer than I wanted to hear.
As the whimpering subsided, the truck crept haltingly down the mountain, made a full stop, then proceeded to the bottom of the hill and turned around. As it ascended, I saw what I believed was a goat carcass in the back of the truck.
Though the slaughter disturbed me, someone was making their living on Virgin Gorda.
The most frightening trip I have ever experienced was driving through Hatillo, Puerto Rico on December 28, 2008.
Our family flew to San Juan and rented an SUV for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Rincon. The trip took us 4 1/2 hours, and one of those hours was the most frightening in my life.
We began our trip cruising west along the north shore, as we caught glimpses of the lapis Atlantic Ocean through the windows of our green Ford Explorer, our excitement increased.
When we approached the seaside town Hatillo, we hit traffic congestion and a confusion of color, and cacophony pierced our eyes and ears. Sirens screamed, horns blared, and men garbed in garish, fluorescent clothing and bizarre, grotesque masks guzzled liquor and beer while riding in the back of colorfully painted trucks and parade floats.
As we entered Hatillo we were in gridlock and the town was bedlam, with groups of men staggering in the streets swilling alcohol. We closed our windows, locked our doors, and peered at the insanity. Unfortunately, we became their target.
We feared for our safety
Men swarmed our SUV, shook it, and shot it with Silly String. I hoped that they wouldn’t overturn it. Metal boomed, as they pounded their fists on the hood, roof and windows, and I wondered if the glass would shatter. Police, who were outnumbered probably 100 to 1, ignored the pandemonium, and we knew if the crowd became violent, we were in trouble. I was mostly worried about the children in the back seat, who ranged from 9 to 15 years old.
Our jeep creeped at about 2 mph for about an hour, and we cringed and gaped as some of the men became falling-down drunk.
Eventually, we spotted a cross street about four blocks ahead. Without coaxing, my husband drove over the curb, and on the sidewalk, and we passed the gridlocked cars. When we turned on the open street and accelerated, we high-fived and laughed from relief.
Mascaras de Hatillo or Hatillo Mask Festival
We learned that the locals were celebrating the Hatillo Mask Festival or Mascaras de Hatillo. It appeared to me, that for some, it was an excuse to get drunk and terrorize anyone caught in the gridlock, though the festival is legitimate.
It commemorates when King Herod ordered soldiers to kill little children after Jesus was born to prevent Jesus from becoming king. The gaudily clad men represented these soldiers.
Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md attracts a polo-shirt-crowd that mixes with the blue-collar locals. It’s a fun place to eat and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer and absorb Baltimore culture. There are a variety of food options from homemade soup, fried seafood (including Baltimore crabcakes), sushi, raw oysters, steamed clams, shrimp, and mussels; chicken, fries and more.
Also, customers can shop for fresh vegetables, produce, meats, seafood, and chicken, or purchase prepared food to take home.
Businesses will remain open when Cross Street undergoes renovations in the fall.
On Route 404 west of Denton, Maryland, road construction is causing workers to direct traffic one way while cars driving in the opposite direction wait. Traveling eastbound, I waited a few minutes, however as traffic increases I suspect that will change. At 11:30 a.m., travelers heading westbound were backed up about two miles. I would try to avoid this area or check with the state police for traffic conditions.