When we went to Iceland in June 2021 I thought travel was back. But then the Greek alphabet started to wreak havoc on our travel life. First Delta hit in the summer and then Omicron almost shut us down when we were in Mexico. That Pandamit refused to loose it’s grip. Now, more than two years since it started, we once again are cautiously dipping our toes into travel with a ten week tour. We are ready and The Grand Adventure Continues.
My word of the year for 2022 is caution. And although we always travel with caution, navigating a travel life today requires a great deal more preparation and caution than in the past. Changing rules for testing and entry requirements require constant monitoring. It requires patience. It requires time. And it also requires being a bit of a gambler.
Off We Go
So with all that in mind, we have spent the past several months planning, studying the CDC information and reading the US State Department guidelines. We have put hundreds of hours into our preparation to embark on this tour. The destinations listed below each are chosen for a specific reason – personal and cautionary…and the Grand Adventure continues.
New York City
Twice we have canceled a week long winter visit to NYC due to the Pandamit. When we decided to try again for a spring visit, it was because we were headed to Boston for a college reunion. But alas, the college reunion was canceled (sigh). So we added the days we were going to be in Boston to the days we had already booked for New York…giving us a nice long stay of eleven days.
We have been to New York at least a half a dozen times, but each time has always been only 2-3 days. Having eleven days gives us time to slowly see the city and all it’s fabulous museums, restaurants, neighborhoods and history. We have a full itinerary and are really looking forward to it. April 21-May 2.
When we first decided to head to the Caribbean after New York the other countries on our itinerary (see below) hadn’t totally opened up. So we decided to head to the turquoise waters of two islands we had never been to before. It’s been a long time since we spent time in the Caribbean and we are looking forward to ten days in Antigua (in an Airbnb with a car) and ten days in Turks & Caicos (a resort with no car). For us it’s incredibly rare that we stay in a resort, so this should be interesting. It’s not a super fancy all-inclusive, but it is nice and we expect it to be very relaxing and within our budget. May 2-May 21
From the Caribbean we fly to Washington DC for a one night stay, where we will also do a Covid test for entry into Morocco. This is also where we will rendezvous with our two adult sons, who are joining us for the Morocco portion of this itinerary. We are off to Morocco to attend a wedding reception of a friend of our family…a party that has been canceled three previous times since the Pandamit hit. Before the wedding in Fes, our family will spend a week touring Morocco. This is my second visit to Morocco and I am really looking forward to seeing this beautiful country again, sharing it with my two adult children and attending a traditional Moroccan wedding. It should be an incredible experience. May 23-May 31.
The West Africa nation of Senegal has been on my list for a long time due to it’s fascinating history, but we have never been able to squeeze it in. But it’s a short flight from Casablanca to Dakar so we will check Senegal off the bucket list. We have a brief visit (five days) and have hired a tour guide for two days to take us to some of the major sites. May 31 – June 5.
From Senegal we are headed to the island of Malta, but to get to Malta requires a flight and an overnight in Paris. Well Paris is always a good idea, right? Fingers crossed for good weather to spend one full day strolling around my favorite arrondissements of the city of lights and eating everything I can. June 5-6
The next three stops on this tour are three places Covid shut us down in, and we have been counting the days until we could return. So we begin with Malta.
We were supposed to spend three weeks on Malta in May of 2020…of course that didn’t happen. It’s a destination I have wanted to visit for years. Full of beauty and history and fascinating geography…if you don’t know much about Malta you would probably recognize it from the role it plays in many movies and TV shows including Game of Thrones. We are staying in the historic town of Valletta in an Airbnb and we will not have a car except for one day when we have a car to see the ancient city of M’dina. I’ve booked a food tour and a one day tour to the island of Gozo. The rest of the time we will explore on foot. June 6-15th
In March of 2020 after only five days of our 17 day itinerary in Israel we fled the country to avoid being put into a two week quarantine. We fled to Cyprus (more on that below) and I cried in the car as we drove to the airport. We had seen some amazing sites in Israel, but no where near all, including Jerusalem and Masada. I had waited to visit Israel since I was a child and learned about it from a Girl Scout leader. My heart was broken.
So let’s try it again. This time we will spend our entire 7 day visit in Jerusalem in an Airbnb. We have a Jerusalem tour one day, another tour to Bethlehem in Palestine one day, and we will rent a car and drive to Masada one day. We also have booked a Shabat dinner with a local family. These are all high on my wishlist. I love the food of this region too, and I can’t wait to eat all of it! June 15 – 22
Dear sweet Cyprus. It holds such a special place in my heart, after we spent two months in lockdown on this gorgeous island. But during that two months we did not see any of the amazing historic sites, enjoy any of it’s stunning beaches or eat in any of it’s amazing restaurants. Covid had everything shut down. We have vowed to return and now we will.
Unfortunately we only have seven days, but we know exactly what we want to see and do, and we can make it happen. Looking forward to staying in the same Airbnb we were trapped in for two months and we can’t wait to see our hosts who were so kind to us. We also hope to see our friend Leza who we met and spent a day with in a cooking class – the only thing we got to do before we went into lockdown.
Cyprus is a fascinating tiny country with a disputed border, fantastic food, ancient history (supposedly the birthplace of Aphrodite), mountains and beaches and so much more. Dear sweet Cyprus. We are coming. June 23-30
Ten Weeks and The Grand Adventure Continues
This itinerary is busy…much busier than we usually pursue. But we are taking a deep breath and tackling it, because life is short and due to the Pandamit we have some catching up to do! We will arrive back in the USA June 30th for the summer months before we go again.
We are excited to launch again…headed out this time for ten weeks of travel as we settle back into a life of long-term travel. Unlike our two months in French Polynesia, the next ten weeks have us in nine countries. It’s going to be a whirlwind. Unlike French Polynesia this time I have to think about a travel wardrobe for multiple climates.
Where Are We Going?
I have a blog coming up next week where I will share our full itinerary, but for the purposes of today’s post, we are headed out to New York City, the Caribbean Islands, North and West Africa, Paris and the Mediterranean. Packing for these ten weeks means I need slacks and dresses, coats and walking shoes, shorts and tank tops as well as respectful attire for Muslim countries that will be hot in the day and cool at night. It’s a challenge to create this travel wardrobe for multiple climates without over packing.
But I’m always up to a challenge.
New York and Paris
I’ll be in New York City for eleven days and Paris for only one. Both cities could have temperatures anywhere from 45 Fahrenheit to 75. It’s hard to say. Since for the last few years our travels have mostly been to tropical locales, I went out and did some shopping for a variety of new items that I hope will be useful and stylish and flow seamlessly into my existing travel wardrobe.
I bought these black crepe pants at Talbots that I think I am going to love. I also bought a white t-shirt, white button down and a little black and white shrug. Here are four ways I can wear the black crepe pants in the big cities. You’ll see these tops used over and over in the weeks ahead.
I’m also bringing my navy linen pants. They are lightweight and I can dress them up or down. Here they are four ways for both the city and rural destinations;
We are really excited to return to Morocco, this time with our two adult sons. Together the four of us will travel for one week, then we will attend a very formal and traditional Moroccan wedding in Fes. The bride and groom are special and dear to us, and we are excited to share this event with them. Carrying formal clothes is definitely not something we normally do. We even purchased a new suit bag to make this easier. We are sending the suit bag with our sons and will ship it home with them too (maybe with some other items) giving us more flexibility with our bags. Here are three formal looks for me;
And my husband’s wedding looks;
And Into the Oven
Two stops in the Caribbean, Senegal and three countries in the Mediterranean will put us back into tropical weather with highs in the 80’s and lows in the 70’s. Of course we love this weather and already have the wardrobe for it. I purchased two new swimsuits from RipCurl (my new favorite) and have done some mixing and matching in my current tropical wardrobe. Since I am a big fan of linen in the heat, some of my favorite linen pieces have made the cut for this trip. Yes linen wrinkles but in warm humid climates the wrinkles just fall away once the garment is next to my body. We will be in Muslim countries as well as conservative Israel where covering shoulders and sometimes knees is required. I can do that with linen pants, dresses with sleeves and scarves and sweaters. I purchased another item, this rust colored duster which I hope will be versatile. It’s from JJill. Here are some of my new and recycled pieces that made the cut.
Shoes, Always Too Many Shoes
Shoes create havoc in my packing process, and this time, with the formal events, I am even more stymied on how to not over pack the shoes. But, here are the ones I plan to take, more than usual. Some are new and some are tried and true;
My husband indulges me with selfies most of the time, but was reluctant to let me photograph him for this blog post. I talked him into it though, because I convinced him this time to update his wardrobe with a few contemporary pieces. He is a pretty simple guy, and especially for travel has found his favorite and minimalist travel pieces and rarely needs anything more. But we did a shopping trip for him this month, and I think he looks amazing in his new travel wardrobe for multiple climates. These items plus the linen blazer (see above) will be great additions.
And All the Rest
The total going into the bag for me (I may edit further) is;
1 walking shorts
1 hiking shorts
2 tank tops
2 short sleeve blouse
3 long sleeve blouse
2 lightweight sweater
1 linen duster
1 denim jacket
2 formal dresses
1 coat and 1 windbreaker
It looks like a lot of clothes, but actually it is less than I have brought in the past. And before it all goes in the suitcase I will likely edit it down further. I’ve learned what works and what ends up just being dead weight. I don’t really think much anymore about my toiletries, my jewelry or other items we carry regularly. We have a good system now that includes first aid, our French press, The Mug, a foldable cooler, a beach bag and usually some spices and coffee. Our cords and electronics are all conveniently organized in what we call our gadget bag and it all runs pretty smooth. We covet our packing cubes that are life altering and after so many flights and hundreds of thousands of miles, we are kinda experts with this.
After seven years we continue to use our two REI roller duffel bags. Arne replaced all four wheels on these bags this month and they should be good for thousands more miles. These bags are true workhorses and we love them.
Travel Wardrobe for Multiple Climates
It’s with caution that we launch this next episode of The Grand Adventure. We are excited and ready to tackle the challenges travel presents in this crazy world. Of course we always travel with caution, and will of course do so again…and still look amazing and be comfortable in our travel wardrobe for multiple climates.
I hope you will come back next Friday to read about our nine stops on our itinerary, and why we have chosen these places to visit – we have put a lot of heart and soul in these choices. It’s going to be an amazing journey, and I can’t wait.
Thank you for reading this week’s post Travel Wardrobe for Multiple Climates. We love it when you pin and share our posts. Thank you.
It’s going on two years since I made a big commitment to restructuring my diet for a healthy life. I lost 33 pounds and have kept it off. I go up and down a pound or two but essentially am holding at 149 pounds. It is a good weight for me. Most of this success is from what I don’t eat.
A few weeks ago I made a comment on Facebook when I posted a photo of me eating a hamburger. My comment was something like “I don’t really do hamburgers anymore”. Fairly innocent comment but so many people asked me about it. What do I mean I don’t do hamburgers anymore?
So, let me explain.
I Don’t Do Hamburgers
First, a caveat – I have learned what my body reacts negatively to. I’ve learned this through trial and error. I’ve also learned not to restrict any food 100%. So when I say I don’t do hamburgers anymore…well never say never. I break all these rules from time to time. Because life would really suck if you can’t break a few rules from time to time, and eat the donut (or hamburger) on occasion.
How I Lost The Weight
I signed up for Noom (NOT a diet but a lifestyle and psychology program) in May of 2020. I committed to it 100% for six months. It helped me realign my thinking and healthy choices and I am eternally grateful. Since then, I have continued to consider everything I put in my mouth on a daily basis. And I have continued to step on the scale every morning. Weighing daily has been a huge factor in my ability to see what foods make the scale go up or down, what activity makes the scale go up and down, and it keeps me focused. Yes I travel with a bathroom scale in my suitcase. No I’m not kidding.
The blog I wrote about Noom (See it here – My Self Care Journey with Noom) is one of the most read blogs I’ve ever posted. But here is the deal; Noom won’t work for you if you don’t commit. No excuses. Noom is only a tool…YOU must do the work. Failure is not Noom’s fault. I’ve had many people say to me “oh Noom didn’t work for me”. Hogwash.
This disease called Diverticulosis is something I have dealt with for a decade. Last April I had surgery to remove part of my colon (Read about it here – What is Diverticulosis). Even a year later I am still dealing with some diverticulosis issues. The reality is I probably always will.
Unhealthy eating leads to all kinds of ailments, and so it’s never too soon to start thinking about your diet. Poor eating habits contribute to a vast majority of health issues in the United States from obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Why not take control of your health and your one and only body? It’s not too late.
All The Fish All The Time
I used to only eat fish in restaurants because I felt like I didn’t know how to properly prepare fish at home. But those days are over. We eat fish 4-6 times a week. I have fish delivered to my home and always have wild caught fish in my freezer. Having it accessible means I will eat it. And I have taught myself so many ways to enjoy cooking it at home. Check out these two posts about fish – Fun and Delicious Ways to Cook Fish and Wild Caught Alaska White Fish Recipes.
Never Say Never
As I learned about food psychology from Noom, shed the pounds, took up running again AND began to discover what foods set off my diverticulitis, I slowly developed my own healthy eating style. A style that fits my life, goals, tastes, and level of activity. But I never say never. I eat just about anything, I just eat the foods on my personal “bad” list only occasionally.
We didn’t set out to do intermittent fasting as part of our healthy eating. It actually never occurred to us. But, as we find our way in a new and healthy lifestyle, intermittent fasting became part of our life. Here’s why; we really only eat two meals a day. Again…never say never. But most days, we only eat breakfast and dinner (see below for what we eat daily). I do my morning run before breakfast, and have breakfast in the 9:00-10:00am range after my workout. Then we have an early dinner most days (never say never) in the 4:00pm range. We don’t eat again until the next day, anywhere from 14-17 hours. We rarely snack in the evening.
Why Two Meals a Day?
Back in the day I never ate breakfast. I raced around the house getting kids to school and me to work and never thought about breakfast…for decades. That bad habit resulted in my being famished by 10:30am and devouring something huge and unhealthy, often from a fast food place. Back home in the evening I could practically eat an entire meal by nibbling while making dinner…then sit down and eat dinner too. In the evening in front of the TV we often snacked on microwave popcorn, Cheez-Its or Ice Cream.
That doesn’t happen anymore. We eat two good healthy meals a day, with occasional healthy snacks or lunch in the middle. A typical day looks like this;
Coffee then Run
Breakfast is a large bowl with yogurt, berries, Kiwi, mango or pineapple, spinach, grains (barley or quinoa usually), chia seeds and walnuts or almonds. Breakfast includes a hard boiled egg and frequently half an avocado. My breakfast usually includes kombucha.
Dinner might be fish tacos, stir fry or baked cod, halibut or salmon, sometimes chicken or pork. Dinner almost always includes a salad and another green vegetable. We eat risotto a lot because it’s versatile but we don’t eat much pasta. We eat meatless one or two days week and that might be omelet or homemade bean soup, or quinoa patties (my fav) or even lentil dhal or stuffed Portobello.
It’s always filling and delicious and we don’t really need to snack. I drink a ton of water which also keeps me satiated. Sometimes I have herbal tea in the evening.
What I Don’t Eat (Well Most of the Time)
Never say never. There are five things listed here that I generally don’t eat. Removing these things from my daily intake was a quantum leap for me. I never set out to permanently eliminate these, but once I did and I saw the results everything fell into place.
Beef is something my diverticulosis finds offensive. I eat it very rarely. On St Patrick’s Day I had a delicious Irish Stew made with beef. I enjoyed it very much but suffered slightly the next day. Once I recognized the connection I really didn’t desire beef. I still eat pork, lamb and chicken and a ton of fish.
I’ve always enjoyed a good Charcuterie, or a deli sandwich, but I’ve stepped away from these things, including bacon, as part of a healthy diet low in saturated fats. It’s just not worth it…occasionally I’ll have some bacon, which I did recently in a Cobb Salad. It was delicious but it will remain on the occasional list.
CHEESE AND MOST DAIRY
When I was cooking for a family of four we ate so much cheese. OMG we had cheese everyday. Macaroni and Cheese, Spaghetti and cheese, cheesy quiche, grilled cheese, Quesadilla and cheesy tacos. Not anymore. Cheese is like a cork for my digestion so I consume it in very small quantities on rare occasions. I’ll have a little on a taco, some parmesan in risotto and occasionally a few bites off a cheese board. That’s what I miss the most. But it’s not worth it. I still eat butter and I eat yogurt everyday, but the rest of the dairy is limited.
I’ve never been a big dessert eater, even though I love to bake for my family and for special occasions. The only dessert I really miss though is ice cream. But after being on heartburn medicine for a decade (omeprazole) I was flabbergasted how cutting sugar from my diet (never say never) eliminated my need for the meds! After ten years! And no doctor ever mentioned this to me….what the heck?? If you are taking heartburn meds, cut out the processed foods high in sugar as well as homemade sugary things and see if your heart burn goes away. Let’s get un-medicated.
This one will surprise some people because you see me post pictures of drinks on tropical beaches…but the truth is I barely drink alcohol anymore. Not only do beer, wine and cocktails carry a powerful caloric punch…I just feel better when I don’t consume alcohol. There was a time in our life where we opened a bottle of wine every evening and drank it with dinner. There was a time where we, especially in hot climates, drank 2-3 gin and tonics in the afternoon. Those days are over. I have a drink at the most once a week now.
So that’s What I don’t Eat (Well Most of the Time).
These Are My Choices
These are my choices, choices I’ve made to feel the best I can in my Grey Goddess body. My choices aren’t anyone else choices. Each person needs to forge their own path. But since you all asked what the heck I meant when I said “I don’t really do hamburgers”, well now you know.
The world can be hard. Eat the hamburger if you want. But then, get back in the saddle and focus on a healthy body and mind because, life is fabulous and you want to be part of it for many years to come. Go. Be. Fabulous!
If I can help, I’m all ears. xoxox
We love it when you comment, pin and share our blog posts. Thanks.
Well. Here we still are…that crazy PanDamit just won’t give up. If you had told me a year ago when I wrote last year’s 2020 Travel Awards that I would actually travel LESS in 2021 I would not have believed you. And yet…. But nevertheless, we are presenting to you our Fifth Annual World Travel Awards 2021.
In winter 2021 we did some USA exploring, staying away from most people and out of most restaurants. Our USA travel revolved around activities outdoors in sunny places. In April we got our vaccine and we celebrated that milestone by booking our first international trip in more than a year to Iceland. But as summer waned, variants persisted. We continued to travel in the USA and got our booster shot in October, just in time to spend a month in Mexico.
So there was some travel…most of it in the USA, but all of it wonderful. Making the most of a bad situation we continue to live My Fab Fifties Life with courage and caution. For me and my husband, we refuse to be victims or feel controlled by the virus or those who don’t believe in science. Instead, our life is evolving to be happy in this situation that is beyond our control. Doing our best we had some great adventures this year, as you will see in our Fifth Annual World Travel Awards 2021.
And so, we plan to travel in 2022. But in the meantime, we present our Fifth Annual World Travel Awards 2021. I hope it will inspire you to be brave, be smart, be happy and be safe. Happy New Year!
And the winner is…
We visited three countries, plus nine states in the USA.
Favorite City – Mexico City What a fabulous surprise Mexico City was. Huge but with great transportation, this ancient and beautiful city is colorful and remarkably clean and astonishingly delicious. I now rank it as one of my favorite cities in the world. We didn’t have enough time to see it all, so we are considering another visit in 2022.
Cutest Town – Ogunquit Maine We visited Ogunquit in September spending a week with our friends in their summer home and we had the best time. It’s everything you imagine an Eastern Seaboard village to be with beautiful architecture, nice restaurants and shops and beaches too.
Favorite Island – Maui, Hawaii It’s no secret our love for the island of Maui. Of the hundreds of islands we have been blessed to visit around the world Maui remains at the top of our favorite island list. Although it is expensive and can be incredibly crowded, we try to visit during the shoulder season and always fall in love with it again. Read about our Maui adventures here.
Most Expensive Country – Iceland We spent fourteen fun days in Iceland enjoying it’s jaw dropping scenery, with ten of those days in a camper van. We avoided restaurants most of the time, but groceries are expensive, fuel is expensive and the camper van was expensive. But as you will see in the blog below there is a lot to love about Iceland. Read about our Iceland adventures here.
Least Expensive Country – Mexico We were surprised and delighted about the cost of things in Mexico from restaurants and groceries to transportation and lodging. Even our four day food tour was well worth the money and we can’t wait to visit Mexico again. Read about Mexico here.
Favorite Airbnb – Tucson this year we stayed in the fewest Airbnb’s in our entire Airbnb history. Only five. Usually it’s more like thirty. But most of them were great and our favorite was the beautiful house in East Tuscon. It was comfortable and well laid out in a really nice neighborhood where we could run and really get outdoors, right next to Saguaro National Park.
Favorite Hotel – The Red Tree House B&B Mexico City For many reasons, but mostly due to Covid, we ended up in more hotels than Airbnb’s in 2021, a total of 16. Many of these were for only one or two nights as we were just passing through. But The Red Tree House in Mexico City was hands down our favorite. One of the best, if not the best service hotel I have ever stayed in. Beautiful and with excellent breakfast we are already talking about going back next winter.
Most Unique Accommodations – Camper Van Iceland our second time traveling in a camper van in a foreign country. This vehicle was not laid out as nicely as the one we had in New Zealand, but for ten days it worked out fine. And it gave us lots of flexibility to see all the great sights on the fascinating Ring Road in Iceland.
Best View Accommodations – Puerto Escondido Mexico although we found this very open air Airbnb pretty noisy, you just could not beat the view of the Pacific Ocean and the swaying palm trees. Lovely.
Best Food Tour – Mexico City Eat Like a Local Four days of touring with Eat Like a Local Mx opened our eyes to the hidden treasures of this amazing city. We loved every minute and every bite as well as all the history and culture. We also loved our guides Astrid and Rocio and hope to see them again some day. Read about it here.
Weirdest Food – Iceland Fermented Shark We also enjoyed our food tour in Reykjavik Iceland. Iceland has some delicious food, but also some weird food too, like fermented shark. Not my favorite thing ever…tasted like ammonia.
Best Cooking Class – Casa Jacaranda Mexico City Our full day cooking with Casa Jacaranda in Mexico City was one of the best cooking classes I have ever taken…and I have taken a lot of cooking classes over the years. Learning about the ingredients, cooking in the beautiful home kitchens of Casa Jacaranda and enjoying a meal together at the end was just the perfect way to end our visit to Mexico City.
Most Unique Food Experience – O’O Farm Kula Maui during this long visit to Maui we set out to really find some deeper hidden and authentic treasures of this beautiful island (read about it here) and discovering the O’O Farm was one of the most amazing finds. We will definitely visit there again.
Unexpected Food Trend – Sonoran Dog Tucson this unexpected food trend in Tucson was something I had never heard of, but apparently Sonoran Hot Dogs are well loved by those in the know. We did a Tasty Tuesday all about it.
Best Alcohol Tour – Puerto Escondido Mexico a few years ago I was introduced to Mezcal for the first time. Since then, I have learned a bit more about Tequila in general and Mezcal in particular and while in Puerto Escondido we did our first Mezcal Tour. We learned so much from Puerto Mezcal Tours and highly recommend this tour company if you are in the area. Really fun.
Best Micro brews – This one is a tie: Tucson Arizona, and the Breweries of Kitsap Peninsula. While visiting Tucson last winter we set out to taste test all the local microbreweries. During this time there still was no indoor dining, but finding lots of outdoor dining and drinking opportunities we discovered a wide variety of really good beer in Tucson. Back home in Washington State in the spring and summer we spent 8 weeks visiting 24 local microbreweries of the Kitsap Peninsula…if you live anywhere near the Kitsap Peninsula you really need to check this out.
Best Sunrise – Ogunquit Maine – we loved our week in Ogunquit with dear friends and enjoyed the spectacular sunrises each and every morning. Stunning.
Best Sunset – Puerto Escondido Mexico and Maui Hawaii Sunsets over the Pacific Ocean from these two locations never disappointed and we looked forward each evening to the experience.
Best Beach – Maui it’s no secret how much I love the island of Maui, even though it has changed so much in the forty plus years I have been visiting. This year we spent the majority of our time in West Maui, a change for us from past visits, and discovered so many new and lovely beaches…our favorite, Kahana Secret Beach. Shhhhhhh….don’t tell anyone.
Best Waterfall – Iceland – when you first arrive in Iceland you pull over on the road for every waterfall. Until you realize there are tens of thousands of waterfalls and you just can’t possibly see them all. But during our two weeks in Iceland we had three favorites; Dettifoss, Svartifoss, and Hengifoss
Best Natural Site – Antelope Canyon Utah it’s been years that I have wanted to visit Antelope Canyon. I also have tried to get in on the lottery to visit “The Wave”. Still working on that one. But Antelope Canyon is absolutely stunning and it was a definite bucket list for me. I am so glad we finally made it.
Honorable Mention – Kirkjufell Iceland – it was our lucky day to visit this beautiful site on such a clear and sunny day. Kirkjufell is one of the most photographed places in all of Iceland, and it was just stunning.
Best Wildlife Sighting – Grey Wolf Grand Canyon Arizona – a rare and chance siting of a wild wolf on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was such a fluke. I just happened to be looking across a field as we were driving and I yelled Stop! I wasn’t exactly sure what it was I was seeing but we got out the long lens and binoculars and while other cars zoomed right past, we enjoyed seeing a Grey Wolf in the wild. Good eyes Laureen!
Best Wildlife Exhibit – Maui Ocean Center Humpbacks of Hawaii 3D Exhibit it had been many years since we had visited the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium, but their brand new 3D film entitled Humpbacks of Hawaii intrigued us and so we went. Boy were we glad we did. The 3D movie is worth the price of admission, while you can also enjoy the other marine life exhibits. If you have ever hoped to swim with whales, well this is the next best thing. So real.
Best Historic Church – Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson This historic and beautiful old mission just outside of Tucson Arizona was a beautiful surprise both inside and out and I am so glad we took the time to visit it.
Best Modern Architecture – The Chapel of the Holy Cross Sedona Wow. We could see this church from a couple of miles away and even though we weren’t looking for it we headed that way to get a closer look. This Roman Catholic Church is a stunner built into the red rock of Sedona.
Best Museum – Frida Kahlo Mexico City Outstanding small museum in Mexico City, also known as Casa Azul, is the home where Frida Kahlo was born, lived her entire life, and died. The museum dedicated to this strong woman and her fascinating life was our favorite this year.
Best Outdoor Museum – Arizona Sonora Desert Museum one of the best things we did in Tucson, was driving out of town to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, a beautifully laid out outdoor museum. With interpretive signage for the wide variety of plants, wildlife and birds, we spent several hours enjoying this remarkable place.
Best Garden – Sunnylands Palm Springs, Akureyri Botanical Gardens Iceland visiting botanical gardens is a favorite thing we do everywhere we travel. This year we visited several in Arizona, California and Maui. But these two were are favorites for their distinct beauty, surprising colorful blooms (especially in Iceland) and easy accessibility for the visitor. I highly recommend them both. Sunnylands and Akureyri Botanical Gardens
Best Kitsch – Tombstone, Arizona we don’t often fall for the kitsch, but sometimes it’s fun to do the touristy things. In Arizona we spent a day driving from Tucson to Tubac, Bisbee and Tombstone enjoying some history and shopping as well as the touristy kitsch in Tombstone, home to the OK Corral and Wyatt Earp. We were glad we went. Tombstone
Most Unique Experience – Beer Spa Iceland I never did see this activity in any of the research I did for our visit to Iceland, until I stumbled on a brochure. It wasn’t cheap but it was certainly unique and close to where we were spending several days in Akureyri. Bjorbodin was about an hour’s drive. Drinking beer, soaking in beer and having a wonderful time on a very memorable day.
Best Outdoor Art – Borrego Springs California we spent seven weeks in the Palm Springs California area, and one day while driving around we stumbled onto these incredible outdoor sculptures in Borrego Springs. There are dozens of these…perhaps even hundreds. Some small and some huge and all fascinating and fun to see. Worth a side trip if you are in the area.
Best Interactive Exhibit – Wonders of Iceland & Planetarium although this brand new museum and exhibit is pricey, it is really well done and a perfect introduction to Iceland. We learned a lot about the history, geology and geography of the island nation at this exhibit while in Reykjavik, prior to setting out on our 9 day driving tour.
Honorable Mention Van Gogh Immersive Experience Seattle – this traveling exhibit has been getting rave reviews all of the world. We saw it in Seattle and really enjoyed it. Especially if you have never had the opportunity to visit European museums that house Van Gogh, you might find it entertaining.
Best Hike – Tucson, Sedona, Washington State, Maui, Utah if you follow My Fab Fifties Life regularly you know that we hike one day a week, nearly every week of the year. Hiking is a big part of both our travels and when we are at home in Washington State. This past year we have had so many amazing hiking adventures enjoying new hiking experiences in Tucson and Sedona and Page Arizona as well as Utah. We also revisited our favorites in Maui and Washington State. I can’t choose a favorite. I just can’t! So if you are looking to hike in any of these locations click on the live links above to learn more.
Best Place to Run – Maui as I write this I am snowbound in Washington State and unable to keep up with my running schedule. Boy do I miss running in Maui. It’s hands down my favorite place to run in the entire world. I often run before it even gets light, I always feel safe, and I adore the island breeze.
Best Place to Golf – Maui Nui Maui because we were in Maui for two months again this year, we decided to get a membership to Maui Nui in the Kihei area. It’s such a great place to golf if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for some of the fancier courses. We golfed every Monday for eight weeks with our membership and made vast improvements in our game. I can’t wait to go back next fall.
Expensive But Worth It – White Pocket Utah we paid to take a tour to White Pocket in Utah (about two hours from Page Arizona) because getting there requires a four wheel vehicle. Despite the nearly $400 cost, it was worth it…truly one of the most amazing geological sights I have ever seen. The world is strange and wonderful and Arizona and Utah have more than their share of fantastic geological sites!
Best Yoga – Maui Goat Yoga well I saw this on Trip Advisor and without telling my hubs I signed us up. So much fun! For something completely different, spend a morning with the goats in Maui’s Upcountry area of Kula. It was fun. Maui Goat Yoga.
Hottest Day – Puerto Escondido Mexico we love hot weather, and often find ourselves in places without AC, which was the case in Puerto Escondido Mexico where the temperatures daily reached into the upper 90’s Fahrenheit. But we are used to sleeping with open windows and fans and that is what we did in Puerto Escondido.
Coldest Day – Sedona Arizona we knew Sedona could be chilly and we were mostly prepared, although the morning we woke to a blanket of snow we were a little surprised. We still got out and did our hikes and enjoyed the beauty of the low 30’s temperatures and the white snow blanketing the gorgeous red rocks of Sedona
Honorable Mention – Port Orchard Washington unusually cold weather the week after Christmas kept us housebound with 8 inches of snow at our home in Port Orchard Washington.
The Oopsie That Happened Award 2021
Sea Urchin Attack Maui – every year something weird happens that is worth a mention but doesn’t fit into any category. This year it’s the Sea Urchin Attack. When I got caught in a small wave and my foot was dragged across a bed of sea urchins I ended up with 25 sea urchin spines embedded in my foot. And it hurt like hell. Gratefully we learned the remedy is soaking your foot in vinegar for days and days and eventually the spines dissolve. Who knew?
That’s a Wrap
As you can see, despite it all we had some memorable travel experiences in 2021. We no longer carry many expectations for what 2022 will look like. We will just wait and see and be grateful for whatever comes.
I hope you are healthy and safe. I’ll be blogging in the next few weeks about our impressions and experiences in French Polynesia – our 111th country! We will be in French Polynesia for two months! Life goes on – PanDamit be damned!
Thanks for reading this post Fifth Annual World Travel Awards 2021. Thanks for your continued love and support of this blog. We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.
It’s not easy. And it’s bit frightening too. But here we go again tackling travel in 2022 starting next week.
Not everyone is ready to travel. But for those of us who are, jumping through the hoops can be stressful and crazy…but also a bit comical too. Keeping it light and realizing it might not always go as planned is how we are approaching travel during the never ending PanDamit.
It’s truly hard to believe we are now two years into this madness. Accepting that this is now the world we live in is difficult for many people. But for myself and my husband, we have accepted that this is life, and will be our life, likely for the rest of our life. The new world.
In 2020, before I ever heard the word Covid, I chose the word “courage” as my word of the year. In 2021 I chose the word “calm”, in an effort to get my Zen on during this insanity. But as we now step into 2022, my 62nd year on this planet, I am choosing the word “cautious”. We have always traveled with caution. But travel in 2022 requires an added level of caution. And so we continue…our cautionary tale will reveal itself as we step carefully forward.
I wrote a blog a few months ago when we where headed out in the fall. But even since that time the world has yet changed again, and we have needed to change with it. So, some of the plans I listed in that blog we have now put on the back burner. Meanwhile we move ahead with baby steps, focused on immediate plans and nothing long-term.
Next week we fly to the island of Moorea in French Polynesia where we will be for two months. More and more, travel that puts us in one place for a long period of time is what we love and feel confident with. Becoming engrossed in the local culture is such a rewarding experience, and we are hopeful for that on the tiny island of Moorea. It’s not the smallest island we have ever stayed on, but it’s close. We hope you will follow along as we explore and learn and engage in this, our 111th country.
Meanwhile, next Friday our blog will feature our annual TRAVEL AWARDS FOR 2021. It looks a lot different than our annual Travel Award blogs from years past, and yet, we did have some remarkable travel experiences in 2021, despite the fact we only visited three countries (USA, Iceland, Mexico). I hope you will look for our annual Travel Awards blog next week.
Meanwhile, Here We Go Again Tackling Travel in 2022. This is our story. This is My Fab Fifties Life.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. Happy 2022!
We love it and are so grateful when you pin and share our blog posts. Thank you.
It’s that time of year again, when we review our most loved blog posts from the past year. Enjoy these again or for the very first time. The public has spoken – these are our Top Ten. The Best of My Fab Fifties Life 2021.
Damn the PanDamit. We are traveling. We have our vaccine and our booster and we are working to safely and conscientiously get back out there, the way we intended our retirement to go. We want to live our life and so we plan to do it – carefully. It’s time. So after two months in Hawaii, and a brief stop back in Washington State for family issues, off we go again. Here is what’s next for My Fab Fifties Life.
We have one week in Utah and Arizona doing some hiking, including a visit to Antelope Canyon, a bucket list item for me. We then fly to Mexico City for six days where we will eat our way through the city (not kidding – blog coming) followed by two and a half weeks at the beach in Puerto Escondido.
Back to Washington State for Christmas with our family and then mid January we fly to French Polynesia. We have two months in French Polynesia on the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora.
We will return to Washington State again in March, regroup and say Hi, then depart in April for New York City and Boston. May 1st we plan to begin a guided tour of the “Stans” (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan,Turkmenistan) to be confirmed shortly. Followed by attending a wedding in Morocco.
If all goes well we will spend June back in Israel and Cyprus, the two countries we had to abandon on our itinerary when the world shut down in 2020. We also hope to include time in Malta before returning to Washington State for the summer, and returning to Hawaii for the Fall.
Living the Gamble
Not all of this is 100% booked yet, but we are deep into the planning and it feels good to be back into travel planning mode. Travel is never going to be as easy and carefree as it was when we began our Grand Adventure world tour in 2016. And we also recognize it’s going to be a bit of gamble, knowing how quickly things can change in the world. But we have coined a new phrase lately to add to our PanDamit phrase collection…”living the gamble”. And so we continue…
Continuing to Write
This itinerary above may not allow me to have a fresh new travel blog EVERY Friday. But I will do my best and I am grateful for all the continued support you give this blog. I also plan to step back from Tasty Tuesday, our weekly YouTube cooking show. I will do a Tasty Tuesday when I can but not every week. Tasty Tuesday was created as a way to travel internationally from my kitchen during lockdown. It has been fun and well-received during the PanDamit and I also thank you for that. Reading Wednesday will continue each week.
Living the Dream
So this is what’s next for My Fab Fifties Life. Living the dream, dreaming the life, finding the silver lining every day in this wild and wacky world. If we can encourage you to think outside the box, choose to be happy despite the world’s troubles and act positively and conscientiously in your Fabulous Life, our work here is done. Be Brave. Be Smart. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Fabulous.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.