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    Fab North America Travel

    A Wednesday in Gig Harbor Washington

    Day 44 in the USA

    It’s day 44 in the USA, the longest we have stayed in one place in the last two years.  It’s starting to feel like home again.  But today on Day 44 we really played the tourist card and enjoyed a Wednesday in Gig Harbor Washington.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    The beautiful Cushman Trail

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    Kayaking in Gig Harbor Bay

    We used to live in Gig Harbor, a beautiful town in South Puget Sound.  So we know it well.  And yet much has changed in the two years we have been gone, and it’s a lot of fun to get out and enjoy the community from a tourists point of view.

    I got up early this morning and decided to do my morning run ending at my dentist appointment.  I began running at the farthest North point on Gig Harbor’s Cushman Trail, a 6.2 mile paved trail that runs through the heart of Gig Harbor.  I love this trail for how peaceful it is.  As I ran four miles of the fairly hilly trail I saw bunnies, a deer, a squirrel and so many birds including a Pileated Woodpecker, a Flicker, an Osprey and a beautiful Goldfinch (the Washington State bird).  It’s a beautiful and peaceful trail and one of the best things about Gig Harbor.  A great start to my very full Wednesday.

    After my dentist appointment I walked back home via Soundview Drive, aptly named for the spectacular views of Puget Sound, Point Defiance in Tacoma and Vashon Island.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    Colorful kayaks Gig Harbor Yacht Sales

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    A perfect day on the water

    Then we headed out to Kayak Gig Harbor Bay.  We usually spend Wednesday’s with our Moms, so Arne’s Mom joined us for a lovely hour and half on the water.  She had only kayaked once, and it was really a nice calm day so we sliced through the water and circled the bay on our kayaks we rented from Gig Harbor Yacht Sales.  It was very enjoyable.  Just like the Gondola ride I did with my Mom a couple

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    The Trolley at the Boat Yard

    weeks ago, getting out on the water is one of the best things to do when you are in Gig Harbor.  And kayaking gives you a work out too.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    Making our project at AR Workshop

    Next we headed to lunch at the outdoor Trolley at the Boat Yard, a fun little spot right in the middle of the historic downtown. It wasn’t a hot day, but it was dry and comfortable so we ordered up and enjoyed our lunch on the outdoor picnic tables at this popular and affordable spot.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    My canvas pillow in the works

    But our Wednesday in Gig Harbor didn’t stop there!  Later in the afternoon my Mom arrived at our cottage and we headed out to AR Workshop in downtown Gig Harbor.  This darling little shop is new to Gig Harbor and worth a visit.  AR Workshop is a do-it-yourself craft paradise where you can make wooden signs, canvas art and more.  My mom and I had a really great time making stenciled canvas pillows.  It took about two hours and anybody can do it, yet it turned out very professional looking.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    All done!

    I hope to go back again to AR Workshop and make one of their wooden signs. It was a great activity.

    So that was my Wednesday in Gig Harbor – where you can enjoy nature, the harbor, exercise, lunch and arts and crafts all in one day – a perfect Wednesday or anyday.  Gig Harbor, Washington – Fabulous!

    Watch for more USA blogs coming soon.

     

    Fab North America Travel

    A Get-Away to Anderson Island (Pierce County Washington)

    Travel USA

    Location: Anderson Island Washington USA

     

    A weekend getaway on Anderson Island

    Bucolic scenes

    I grew up less than thirty miles from Anderson Island, in the south Puget Sound area of western Washington.  But I had never been there until we did a weekend getaway on Anderson Island.

    Why did I wait so long?

    Anderson Island is a short 15 min ferry ride from the cute and historic waterfront city of Steilacoom, a stones throw from the famous Chambers Bay Golf Club (home of the 2015 US Open).

    A weekend getaway on Anderson Island

    Island Kayaking

    But Anderson Island is not a tourist destination. There are only two airbnb’s and vacation homes and a couple of bed and breakfasts on the island. One restaurant and one cafe. And just one small market. So don’t come here looking for nightlife or shopping.

    So why would you come here? Peace and quiet. Bird watching. Kayaking. Cycling. Walking and hiking.

    A weekend getaway on Anderson Island

    Little cabin in the woods

    We spent one night in a cabin owned by a friend of ours. The cabin nestled cozily in the woods on tiny Pine Lake (actually a pond). From the deck we watched osprey pluck trout from the water as well as families fishing and hauling in some big trout. Should have brought my fishing pole!

    We ate lunch at the Riviera Golf Club restaurant and enjoyed the views looking out over Lake Josephine, one of two pretty little lakes on this island of less than 40 square miles.

    A weekend getaway on Anderson Island

    Lunch on Lake Josephine

    On Friday we cycled the south end of the island through bucolic farmland dotted with old barns and views of the Puget Sound.  On Saturday we cycled the more hilly north end of the island and visited the historic Johnson Farm and local history museum.

    A weekend getaway to Anderson Island

    Cycling on the sound

    Although Anderson Island has no bike lanes, the traffic is so light it’s a safe and serene place to enjoy time on the bikes. It would be an easy day trip too. Leave your car on the mainland and ride your bike on the ferry. The Pierce Transit Ferry runs about once an hour, but sometimes less frequent.  See the schedule here.  The ferry can only take 55 cars, so if you are just going for a day on the bike, definitely leave the car in Steilacoom.

    A weekend getaway on Anderson Island

    Cycling the quiet roads

    We often talk about where we see ourselves settling once our Grand Adventure finishes.  I’m frequently torn between a more urban home where I can walk to grocery store and entertainment or a place like Anderson Island where nature is your neighbor and life is quiet and slow.

    Time will tell…either way I’m sure I’ll visit Anderson Island again where life slows down, neighbors wave and mother nature greets you every morning. Fabulous.

     

    Everything Else Fabulous

    Travel Planning Fatigue

    What’s Ahead for the Grand Adventure

    Location: United States

    Travel Planning Fatigue

    The Mug in the USA

    In the beginning I really enjoyed the planning. Figuring out where to go, where to stay, how to get there and what to do.

    Unfortunately it’s now a bit of a chore and I am suffering from travel planning fatigue. But it’s a necessary chore for this nomad life we have chosen. Ahhhh first world problems…

    Keeping the details straight, connecting the

    Finding an oasis

    The Mug in Bali

    dots and STAYING WITHIN BUDGET is a monumental effort.  We have fallen into a pattern of having our plans set about six months out at any given time. Sometimes however, like now, we end up with even more advanced plans. For instance, now we are looking at Christmas through February in South and Central America. This is the height of the season there, so we are planning even further in advance.

    Travel Planning Fatigue

    The Mug in Bulgaria

    Because we follow the sun on The Grand Adventure, we often hit high season. But because we also try to focus on less-touristy destinations, it usually works out. But, it still requires managing a lot of information, spending a lot of money on advance travel and lodging reservations, and trying to decide what we want to do and where we want spend our time.

    Travel Planning Fatigue

    The Mug in Thailand

    We often split up these tasks. My husband just finished planning Brazil and Costa Rica for December and January, while I am deep into research of the rest of Central America for late winter and spring 2019.

    Travel Planning Fatigue

    The Mug in Australia

    Our goals remain the same;  see parts of the world we have never seen; revisit some past favorites; and experience cultures and places where few visitors go.  Over the past two years we have had amazing success with this strategy. And until arriving in the USA this past May 14th, we have stayed on budget. Our time in the USA however has blown our budget.

    We will get back on track as soon as we leave the USA again. We have our plans confirmed now from Aug 7 – Feb 15th. During this time we will visit the following places; Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Romania, Greece, Egypt, Jordan, Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Miami, Key West, Panama, Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, Nicaragua.

    Travel Planning Fatigue

    The Mug in the Seychelles

    We are still researching the following possibilities from March – late May 2019; Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba and Jamaica.

    So we continue to plan – and to suffer from travel planning fatigue. But My Fab Fifties Life requires being organized and so we have become adept at the planning and managing the details.

    A full and fabulous life.

    Watch for more USA blogs coming soon.

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – A Wrinkle in Time

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book review A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

    I’m not keeping up with my “book a week” reading schedule.  Since arriving in the USA there has been a lot less reading.  No Scrabble games. And fewer relaxing moments.

    But it’s just as we expected it to be, and I am reading when I can.  This week I finished Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s novel A Wrinkle in Time.

    On Father’s Day both my boys saw me reading this book.  I told them I had never read it before and they were both surprised.  They remember the book from their childhood, but I’m sure we did not have it in our collection so they must have read it in school.

    This classic novel written in 1962 wear’s its age well.  The recently released Disney film A Wrinkle in Time brings the tale more into modern-day.  I’d be curious to see how they changed the story to make that work…iphone’s perhaps?

    A Wrinkle in Time is the fantastical story that combines childhood fantasy with science fiction.  It’s a tale like many other beloved children’s works that includes an evil and magical side that is overcome, in the end, with the greatest force in the world – love.

    A precursor to Harry Potter (and not nearly as involved) the story of Meg and her incredible family also reminded me of many other of my favorite childhood books such as the Narnia series, The Giver and even Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  Each of these have the similar theme; overcoming the darkness in our lives and pursuing honor and love.

    A beautiful, easy to read classic for any age.  Four stars for A Wrinkle in Time. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Check out last week’s review of Jodi Picoult’s Vanishing Acts.

    This blog contains affiliate links and we may receive compensation if you purchase this book.  Any money earned goes back to support the maintenance of this blog.  Thank you.

     

    Fab North America Travel

    Let’s Go Gondola in Gig Harbor Washington

    Authentic Gondola Experience in Beautiful Gig Harbor

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    It’s been three years since John Synco realized his dream of starting his own Gondola business, Gig Harbor Gondola.  But John isn’t Italian.  Nor does he live in Italy.  He is just another amazing entrepreneur in the small town of Gig Harbor Washington who made his dreams come true.

    John had been a professional Gondolier in Southern California for several years starting in 2002.  He had traveled to Venice

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    Onboard Nellie

    several times and loved the beautiful boats and the life of the Gondolier.

    A friend of John’s purchased two authentic Venetian Gondolas a few years back. At the time John was living with his wife and young daughter in Edmonds, having recently left California for Washington.  John wanted one of the gondolas, but knew the waters in Edmonds wouldn’t be conducive to a peaceful gondola ride.

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    Peacefully slicing through the water

    So after searching the area, the family moved to Gig Harbor, with its peaceful small harbor, to start Gig Harbor Gondola. His new Venetian Gondola christened Nellie.  A dream realized.  Three years later John’s business is his full-time, year-around job.  And he is so good at it.

    I took my Mom on the gondola for an evening one-hour tour of the beautiful Gig Harbor Bay.  The $85  one hour tour is for two people.  You can add up to four more people for $20 each.  You can also do a one and half hour tour for $115 for two people and again each additional person is $20 up to six people maximum.

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    My Mom and I enjoying the ride

    The Gig Harbor Gondola price includes appetizers (meats, cheese, grapes and crackers) and you are welcome to bring additional food and drinks.

    John has done his research, and even though he is a relative newcomer to Gig Harbor he really knows the history of the town.  His tour provides lots of fun information, history and insight into this tiny community on the bay, nestled so peacefully in the shadow of Mount Rainer.

    The night we toured was calm with little wind and though a bit chilly, the sun was shining.  The gondola includes blankets though just in case.  Through out our tour one harbor seal followed the gondola around the bay, curiously watching us and

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    The mouth of Gig Harbor Bay and it’s welcoming lighthouse

    keeping just to the right of John’s oar.  Speaking of John’s oar, he has learned the craft of being a gondolier perfectly.  The rowing oar, which is not attached to the boat, is used to both propel the boat and as a rudder. Our ride was smooth and silent and safe.

    After learning and chatting as we calmly sliced through the water, John took a moment to serenade us with a beautiful Italian ballad.  I have no idea what he was singing about – but it was lovely.  I’m sure people on shore could hear his crisp tenor voice across the water.

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    The sun sets on our tour

    Spending time on Gig Harbor bay with Gig Harbor Gondola is always a treat.  Seeing this lovely town from the water gives you such a different perspective.  And now I’ve seen it through new eyes, the eyes of John and Nellie the Gondola.  Bellissimo!

    Grazie John!  What a lovely, relaxing excursion.

    Favoloso!

    Make your reservation to enjoy Gig Harbor Gondola today! Click here!

    Visit Gig Harbor

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

    I snatched this book from the cruise ship recently, where you could take a book and leave a book.  I left several, and took this one and a couple of others.

    I’ve read Jodi Picoult before, and liked but didn’t love her books.  This one was similar for my reaction, but I did enjoy the story that addresses not only family, but alcohol addiction and memory loss.

    What would you do if thought your child was in danger? In danger by someone they loved?  What if that someone was your estranged spouse?  Would you take the child and run?  I don’t think we ever know what we would do until we find ourselves in a situation like that.  And this is the basis of the story of Vanishing Acts.

    Delia Hopkins loves her father. She has a beautiful daughter and is engaged to be married to her best friend. She has a career as a highly successful dog search and rescue leader.  Life is good.  Until the bottom of her world falls away.

    Out of the blue Delia’s mild-mannered father is arrested. Delia’s father has been leading a life of lie, ever since he took Delia and left Arizona when she was only four.  Delia remembers nothing of this and as the story unfolds she learns so much about herself that she never knew.  And along the way she also learns who the important people in her life are – and what ends those who love us will go, to keep us protected.

    As the story of Delia life unfolds, Picoult takes the reader from rural New Hampshire to Arizona as Delia fights to learn the truth about her own life, her father’s life and to rationalize and come to terms with a new reality of who she really is.

    ⭐⭐⭐Three stars for Vanishing Acts.

    Read last week’s review of Never Home

    This blog contains affiliate links.  If you purchase a book I will receive compensation.  Any money earned goes back into the maintenance of this blog.  Thank you.

     

    Fab North America Travel

    Being an Ambassador of Food

    And Remembering Anthony Bourdain

    Location: Gig Harbor WA USA

    I’ve decided I can be an Ambassador of food.  My new fabulous role.

    When we used to live in Gig Harbor (Washington USA) I started a cooking club of like-minded friends.  Usually I taught the class and it focused on teaching one of the cuisines I had learned while on a recent trip somewhere in the world.  We also met a few other times when other cooking club

    Ambassadors of Food

    The Gig Harbor Cooking Club

    members organized events such as wine tasting, and a class with a chef at a local restaurant.

    Our Cooking Club included 14 super fun people.  Our time together was always interesting and educational.  And always involved lots of food and

    Ambassador of food

    Enjoying cooking and eating

    wine.

    Since I left the USA the cooking club kind of fell apart.  But I returned determined to bring it back together, at least for one performance, while I was here in Gig Harbor.

    Yesterday eleven of our fourteen cooks gathered

    Ambassador of Food

    In the kitchen

    at the home of one of the members and I taught a class on Vietnamese and Thai cooking.  We had this on the calendar for several months.  But the suicide of my cooking, traveling, world ambassador mentor Anthony Bourdain weighed heavy on my mind – particularly since Vietnamese cuisine I knew was Anthony’s favorite.

    Ambassador of food

    Sharing

    I decided I wanted to talk to my cooking friends about how overwhelmingly sad I felt that Anthony Bourdain chose to take his life.  So that discussion is how we began our class.  Everyone felt the same lost and shocked feeling – all of us knowing it could have been prevented.  We talked a while about Tony and about suicide and about our country and its many troubles. And then to ease some of that heartache, we began to cook.

    It was fun, chaotic, delicious and exhausting.  I love to teach and this kind of event comes very naturally to  me, but it was tough cooking and teaching in someone else kitchen.  But we made it work, didn’t burn the house down, and had a great time. In Tony’s memory.

    Ambassador of food

    Combining the flavors

    I realize, through teaching new cuisines to open-minded cooks, that I am in my own small way, an ambassador like Anthony.  I’ve talked about this before – how I see my world travel as an ambassador role.  Showing people around the world what “real” Americans are like.  So it’s another way to open minds and hearts – I can bring cuisines back here to my friends, help them embrace new cultures and experiences and make the world a better place, one delicious mouthful at a time.

    It’s certainly not Parts Unknown.  But it makes me feel happy.

    I’m grateful to this group of cooks who enjoy the same things I enjoy and so I’ve given them a challenge – I promise to teach another class when I come back to the USA again next summer, but on one condition.  They must organize themselves and have at least one Cooking Club event while I am out of the country.

    Challenge on. Let’s make Tony proud.

    Fabulous.