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Adventure

    Inspire

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe with Just One Suitcase

    Looking and Feeling Grand on the Grand Adventure

    Location: United States

    After wearing the same clothes over and over on our Grand Adventure I was looking forward to some major shopping once I got back in the USA. I knew I could create a fabulous travel wardrobe that would fit in  just one suitcase.

    I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two months purging my old travel wardrobe and adding fresh new and fabulously fun and comfortable items.  There are only five items from my previous wardrobe (excluding underwear) that make the cut for this next phase of my fabulous travel wardrobe.

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    The white dress five ways. This is from J. Jill. I’m gonna love this dress I think.

    I have a really good understanding now of what works for me as a full-time traveler; what makes me feel good; is comfortable, pretty and easy to care for; what is well constructed and can withstand hand washing, sweat and constant wear; and most importantly what is versatile for many kinds of climates and all kinds of fabulous.

    That’s what I look for in a fabulous travel wardrobe.

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    Black Dress six ways. This is a TravelSmith purchase, wrinkle free fabric. I love it. It made the cut for this next phase. Denim jacket is Levi.  Black and white kimono scarf I bought in Bali. White tie blouse is from Macy’s.

    Granted, most of the clothes I need are for warmer climates.  However on this next phase we will see some cool weather, especially while we are in Spain and Portugal in late October and November.  So I need to take this into consideration.

    I’m basing my fabulous travel wardrobe on some anchor pieces including; one white dress, one black dress, one pink dress and one green dress.  In addition I have added; one black linen drawstring pants, one white linen drawstring pants, one white walking shorts and one black walking shorts.

    With these anchor pieces I have added multiple tank tops and t-shirts and blouses as well as one sweater, two cardigans and my denim jacket. I also have two kimono scarf wraps (one silk, one cotton) and two

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    The green dress four ways. This is another Travel Smith purchase. The silk Kimono scarf and the black leggings are from Sirvana

     

    scarfs.  All of these items together can create an endless array of options for me.  The photos show just some of the ideas I have.

    I also have a couple of fun hats and a small collection of versatile jewelry to mix and match.  Although most of the time we aren’t getting dressed up, it’s nice to have some jewelry options for casual outfits as well.

    My wardrobe includes

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    Pink dress four ways. I got this dress on a clearance rack at J.Jills. It’s linen – my favorite fabric. There is that Sirvana kimono again.  Teal and pink scarf is from Target.

    some handbags and six pairs of shoes.  My shoe choices are flat or low heeled with excellent arch support and lots of comfort.  Anything other than that doesn’t make the cut of a fabulous travel wardrobe.

    In my suitcase you will also find my small collection of mix and match items that serve me for hiking, running and yoga.  These activities are a big part of most every day in My Fab Fifties Life so making sure I am comfortable when I’m working out is a priority.  Our fall hike of the Porto Camino will likely include some rainy days, so I am preparing with a better rain poncho

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    White pants and or shorts six ways. There are endless options here. Linen pants are Caslon from Nordstrom. The white shorts I have had for years. Black lace duster from Sirvana. Blue and white striped tank is DraperJane by Reece Witherspoon. White Lace tank from Travel Smith. Washed denim top from Marshalls and red top from StitchFix.

    than the one I had last year on the Spain Camino.

    I bought two of the same swimsuit but in different colors.  This way I can wear the first one until it starts to fall apart and have a back up ready.  I hated trying to shop for a swimsuit on our travels. And because I wear a suit almost every day, mostly in salt water, they really wear out.  I’m also bringing my older one-piece suit that I found in storage.  I prefer a one piece suit when snorkeling so I want to have it for those times.

    Making the cut from last years wardrobe are my

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    Black pants and or shorts eight ways. Of course black is flattering, but these pants are also comfortable. Linen pants are Caslon from Nordstrom, black shorts I have had for years. Teal button up tank and print tank from J Jill. White top with black embellishment is from Macys. Mustard sweater is Coldwater Creek.

    bold flowered print long sleeve gauze blouse.  I love the color and comfort of this top and even though it’s long sleeved it is perfect in hot weather.  It will come in handy in Muslim countries where I want to cover my arms.

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    My gear for running and yoga. Black shorts and shoes are Brooks. Leggings from Sirvana.

    I’m also bringing my 12-year-old teal linen sundress which is my favorite and is a perfect beach coverup.  I did some hand stitching to it this summer to fix the hem and some fraying. Good as new and ready to go again.

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    I have hiking options for all weather possibilities. And we likely will use them all! Most everything you see here is from REI. Poncho from Magellan. My hiking shoes are from Kuru- specifically designed for plantar fasciaitis.

    In addition I’m throwing in my denim cropped white jeans.  I’ve never had a more comfortable pair of jeans and they work in so many ways.  A keeper for sure. My black shorts are also on the return list.

    And finally, my black dress from Travel Smith I wore over and over on the last phase of our travels I will wear over and over on the next phase.  This dress is a wonderful wrinkle free fabric and feels really good to wear.

    There are a few other minor miscellaneous items I plan to bring, but I feel more pared-down than when we left two years ago.  We both will continue to use our sturdy REI roller bags, now in their fourth year and who knows how many miles and baggage handlers they have endured.  We had to change the wheels on one of them, and are carrying a set of wheels for the other bag just in case.

    Fabulous Travel Wardrobe

    My swim attire – the blue and the green tops are identical except for color. I bought the Sarong in Bali and there is my old trusty teal linen sundress that has been around the world several times.

    In addition Arne has his backpack and I have my new roller carry-on.  I’m confident we will have plenty of room.  Not only for our clothes but for all the other items (did you see the YouTube video we posted about packing non clothing items?  We also posted a time-lapse on Youtube that is fun to watch).

    The thing is, you would basically pack the same if you were going on a month-long vacation.  Granted there are some things you wouldn’t need to pack (back up wheels for your suitcase or 12-months of contact lenses), but it’s essentially the same.  I would most likely bring the same amount of clothes for a month as I am for a year, a fabulous travel wardrobe.  It’s all about planning and knowing how to mix and match to feel and be your fabulous best.  Everyday, every country, everywhere.  Go. Be. Fabulous.

    Launch is in T-minus 25 days!

     

    Inspire

    Preparing to Travel Full Time – It’s In The Details

    The Grand Adventure

    Location: United States

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    Note – at the request of one of my friends, I have updated this blog, originally posted in November 2016, with fresh new information.  Enjoy it again.

    “How exactly do you prepare to leave the country and travel full-time?”

    As our departure day to leave the USA again grows near, this is the recurring question.  People we meet often show, interest, surprise, envy, jealousy, horror and confusion. But most of all they are curious. How exactly do you prepare to leave the country and travel full-time?

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Thailand

    So over the past couple of weeks I have been pulling together some details to share again. A lot of details.  In fact, I would answer the above question with a simple sentence.  “It’s in the details.”

    Before we embarked on the first phase of the Grand Adventure we spent several years preparing.  A younger person, like my son, can prepare more quickly, in a matter of months.  But for Fab Fifty rock stars like me and my husband, it took more time.

    For us about three years.

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Morocco

    When the idea first sprouted, I knew immediately we would do it.  Without a question I knew it was right for us.  All while knowing it isn’t right for everyone.

    In fact, making a major life change like this should take some serious soul searching – are you cut out for a life of travel? What is your tolerance level?  Consider everything from beds to cultural customs when considering your personal tolerance for living outside of the United States.  Do you have phobias? Afraid of bugs? Snakes? Rodents or people not like you? Are you afraid of cultures where everyone isn’t white?  Are you willing to eat new foods, communicate in languages other than English and squat to go to the bathroom? Give it a think because, a life of full-time travel isn’t for sissies or intolerant people. You gotta be open, willing and fairly fearless while being smart, observant and adventurous.

    Once you know your tolerance level that in-turn will help you determine your budget.  Because if you are only willing to stay in upscale American style hotels, then your budget will need to look very different

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Vietnam

    from ours.  Our travels have us staying in primarily Airbnb’s that average about $70.  And honestly if you are only willing to stay in American brand hotels with 300 thread count sheets and someone to cater to your every whim – well, you should just stay in the USA. Because you will miss the most rewarding part of travel – getting out of your comfort zone and expanding your world view.

    We have a daily budget of $200 all-inclusive (transportation, lodging, food and misc).  This is plenty for most places and not enough for a few places, but we are frugal and hope it all evens out.  Because the

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Spain

    reality is if we can’t stay within our designated budget then the Grand Adventure will be over, sooner rather than later.

    Speaking of timeline – we don’t have one.  This of course would not work for everyone, but for us it fits.  We will continue the vagabond life as long as we are having fun.  As soon as it becomes anything other than fun, we will wrap it up.  But so far, 99% fun.

    So listed below are some “details” on how to prepare to leave the country and travel full-time.  Most of these things we have had to learn on our own – so if this list can alleviate any work for someone else considering traveling abroad full-time in retirement, use it well.

    PURGE – we started our purge process more than two years before we put our house on the market, as we let go of nearly every bit of fluff we owned, including house, cars, boats, trailer, furniture and more.  We have a 10×12 storage unit now that is holding what remains of our stationary lifestyle and life’s memories. During this same period we worked to purge my Dad’s house, remodel his place and get it on the market as well as move him to a smaller place.  It was a big goal to get him out of his large house before we left. It was a huge job but it needed to be done.

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Cambodia

    DOCUMENTS – we updated our passports even though they were not expired, so we would not have any issues with needing to do that from abroad.  We also updated our Washington State Drivers License.  We will carry a copy of our marriage certificate with us but not our birth certificates because the passport is sufficient.  We have researched every possible country we think we might visit to learn the entry/visa requirements. We are carrying extra passport photos because some countries require obtaining a visa on entry with photo. We also carry International Drivers License, even though we have NEVER been asked for one.

    SPREADSHEET – we created a spread sheet, which is evolving constantly and we can access via Google Drive, to track all of our travel including air and ground transportation and lodging.  This spreadsheet includes notes regarding entry rules for countries. It’s also a fun tool for tracking so many things from miles traveled to beds slept in.  The data we have is incredible.

    MAIL – we are using a PO Box that belongs to my Mother-in-law, but we are trying hard not to receive

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Croatia

    any mail.  We have notified our friends and family not to snail mail us, we have contacted magazines and catalogs to eliminate junk (not very successful however) and we have changed all of our banking, retirement and property related mail to online only. I canceled my 35 year subscription to Bon Apetit.

    TECHNOLOGY – we have new smart phones, an iPad and my Brand new light weight Mac Book that will travel with us.  In addition we will bring our old flip phone.  For our smartphones (we each have an iPhone) we buy a sim card in each country for one of our phones to enable the phone to have a local phone number and data.  We then also use our iPhones with wifi for things like blogging, Facebook and Instagram.  The flip phone is programmed  with our old Verizon phone number from the states.  Although we don’t plan to use that number often, it keeps it active for emergency.

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Seychelles

    We also have our Bose noise-canceling headphones and our Bose SoundLink Mini speaker that measures about 6 in x 3 in.  We carry this with us and it allows us to listen to music using Spotify and listen to Audible or other books.

    APPS – We have a few travel apps we like especially Airbnb, Expedia and Google Maps.  We also have a Google translate which is really cool.  You can point your phone at a sign or menu item in another language and it will show you what it says in English.  Love it.  We use WhatsApp, an app that allows you to make overseas calls via the internet, this is primarily the way we communicate with our kids.  To call our parents, who aren’t on WiFi, we use an app called TextNow which allows free phone calls from anywhere to the USA. We also use Kindle, Yelp, Uber, Get Your Guide and Trip Advisor.

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure New Zealand

    CORDS AND CHARGERS – I honestly don’t understand why there isn’t a universal cord for all electronics, but alas wishful thinking.  So we have organized and sorted all our cords, charges and adaptors to travel along. We research ahead to make sure we know what adaptors we need in each country. We have one packing cube we use for all of these items.

    CREDIT CARDS – don’t you hate it when your credit card company announces suddenly that you are being mailed a new credit card because your card has been compromised?  Well that would really screw us up if that happens.  So we have FOUR credit cards.  One is our primary and three are backups.  Three cards have no foreign transaction fees (which is a killer).  We also have multiple ATM cards. All credit and debit cards are chipped.  VERY IMPORTANT is that we do not carry all these cards together in one place.  That way, if our wallet or purse is lost or stolen, we will have back up cards available in a different location.  We have contacted all of the card companies for both credit and debit and let them know we will be traveling abroad for an extended period.  We have put a reminder on our calendar to do this again periodically. We carry several hundred US dollar in cash for emergencies.

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Portugal

    PRESCRIPTIONS – I take two prescriptions regularly.  It’s been a challenge to get enough of my meds stocked up.  My insurance company will allow, with a special doctor’s note, two 90 day vacation overrides.  I have been stocking up in other ways too, but it’s not going to be enough.  I will need to find access to these meds to fill the rest of the time, because we won’t be back in the US for a visit until next summer. Shipping prescriptions abroad is illegal. We have some people coming to visit us, so I may have them bring me my pills. But I am confident I can find the meds or an equivalent.  I will need to pay cash for those at the time.  I have also 12 months worth of contact lenses and we each have our glasses plus a back up pair.

    DOCTORS – during the three months we have been in the USA we have had a ton of appointments; family physician for full physicals, new prescriptions and precautionary antibiotics; eye doctor for new contacts and glasses; dermatologist for annual check up; dentist for cleaning and some work; gynecologist for check up; and annual mammogram. I had my updated yellow fever, and DPT shot and did a round of typhoid and got a two month supply of malaria meds.

    MEDIVAC INSURANCE – considering our age, we felt there was value in purchasing evacuation insurance.  This insurance covers expenses to transport us back to the USA in case of a medical emergency that can’t be handled locally.

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Spain

    EXPEDIA AND AIRBNB – we love how these two
    online websites allow us to keep files of all your bookings.  This eliminates the need for printing and gives us easy access to our bookings.  We use them both frequently.

    DECIDING WHERE TO GO – After two years of non-stop travel we feel much more comfortable with our movement around the planet.  It feels natural.  We usually agree on where we want to go and make our decisions based on budget, weather, safety and interest. We love to go new places, but have a few favorites we return to. We take turns planing the itinerary, often taking a country each.

    Although we aren’t completely booked yet, we have a plan for August 2018 through June 2019 that includes; Denmark (visiting Arne’s cousins), Belgium, Germany, Poland, Romania, Greece, Egypt &Jordan (the only countries currently where we are doing a tour), Portugal & Spain (where we will walk our second Camino de Santiago), Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru & Chile (these five countries on a cruise with Arne’s Mom), Brazil, Costa Rica (joined by our friends from Washington), El Salvador, Belize (joined by our two sons), Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Cuba.

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Tunisia

    GIRL STUFF – I’ve learned some things about myself over the past two years. Despite how easy it is to have long hair and wear it in a pony tail everyday, I just hate the look on me.  So the budget will need to include more haircuts.  Mostly I do my own nails and wear hardly no makeup, but I still like to have my eyebrows waxed from time to time. I have just a handful of earrings and necklaces I wear and of course the charm bracelet. I’ve just purchased a jewelry case that’s I hope will help my jewelry not take such a travel beating.

    The Grand Adventure Australia

    PACKING – this topic is by far the one most people ask about, and indeed one of the hardest.  We will continue to use two large REI rolling bags.  Arne will continue to use his backpack as a carry on. But this time my backpack will stay home and I just purchased a new rolling carry on. And packing cubes have changed my life.  Organized and categorized I love using packing cubes.

    It helps that we are traveling, for the most part, to warm climates or to areas during their warm season.  We may see cool and rainy in Portugal and Spain in the late fall. Honestly the clothing choice has been easier than the shoes.  And the bulkiest items are not clothes or shoes it’s toiletries and

    The Grand Adventure Namibia

    medicines. I just purchased a flat style toilette bag to replace the larger boxier cube style one we have been carrying. I’m hoping this will free up some space in the suitcase.

    Without a doubt I am bringing twice the clothes as my husband, but I have learned so much this past two years for what works for me and what is comfortable and easy to maintain.

    How to travel full-time

    The Grand Adventure Laos

    I threw out almost all the clothes I used the past two years and have replaced them with fresh, new and comfortable.  Watch for a blog soon all about my new travel wardrobe. I think you’re gonna love it.

    In addition we have our electronics and documents and toiletries, first aid and meds.  We have our Scrabble game, our hiking poles, a selfie stick, an REI titanium French press, a can opener,a small knife, collapsible small cooler and colander.  I have a new “butt cushion” to hopefully alleviate sciatic pain on long flights.  I’ve thrown in some pens and pencils, scotch tape and packing tape, a bungee cord, cloths pens, plastic bags (multiple sizes) our headlamps and some extra batteries.  Of course I don’t leave home without my Washington State University flag, my Seattle Seahawks flag and THE MUG.

    So there you have it.  The details.  I’ve probably forgotten something.  We feel more prepared and less anxious than when we left two years ago.  We are looking forward to this next phase.

    Ready to launch year three of the Grand Adventure! T minus 33 days.

    I welcome your questions.

    Fabulous!

     

     

     

    North America Travel

    Nashville For First Timers

    What a Fabulous City

    Location: Nashville Tennessee USA

    Nashville for first timers

    Breakfast at Bisquit Love

    Nashville for first timers. Not what I was expecting. What a wild place – crazy, historic, loud, interesting and delicious. Nashville for first timers can be a bit of a surprise though. At least it was for me!

    Nashville for first timers

    Famous Jacks BBQ on Broadway

    My high school girl friends and I went a bit rogue this time in choosing our destination for our (almost) annual girls get away.  Nashville made the cut and eight of us put on our mud kickers and headed out for a country music weekend.

    We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. Unfortunately we didn’t realize how spread out this city is. So my first bit of advice is be prepared to need to Uber and cab it all over town. We spent a ton of money on that – big surprise there. So if you are a Nashville for first timers virgin be prepared!

    Nashville for first timers

    Visiting Antique Archeology

    The Old Town Hop On Hop Off  Trolley was a good investment though when you are doing Nashville for first timers. We bought the first day ticket for $35 and added the second day for an additional $10.  I really loved the drivers of these trolleys who gave us great history, interesting stories all served up with southern charm and humor.

    One of my favorite things we did from the Hop On Hop Off was visit the famous and historic Ryman Theatre where The Grand Ole Opry performed from for many decades. The theatre is really amazing and the tour was was interesting.

    Nashville for first timers

    Historic Ryman Theatre

    Nashville for first timers

    Nelson Greenbrier Distillery

    Also I loved our visit to the historic Marathon Motor Company building. Today it’s filled with funky shops including the Antique Archeology of American Pickers fame. Also on this same block is the Nelson Greenbrier Whiskey Distillery.  The $11 tour was really fascinating and included a tasting of four different spirits they distill.

    From the Hop on Hop Off we also found Music Row fascinating and surprising how these famous recording studios are mostly in tiny houses and not in huge skyscrapers.

    Blake Shelton’s brand new Ole Red bar on Broadway

    The Honky Tonk scene on Broadway in downtown Nashville is way crazier than I imagined. It was Las Vegas with the volumn turned up to eleven. Wild. Thousands and thousands of people, hundreds and hundreds of bars and restaurants and every single one has live music blasting all day long.

    Apparently Nashville is the number one destination in the USA for bachelorette parties. Young scantily clad brides and bridesmaid groups are whooping it up on the sidewalks, in the back of rented flatbeds and open top busses and on the cycle beer trucks. Loud and ready to party. Wow.

    Nashville for first timers

    With my friends at The Grand Ole Opry Hotel

    We took an Uber 20 minutes out to the Gaylord
    Grand Ole Opry Hotel. This is also the place where the Grand Ole  Opry now has its home. But the 3000 room hotel is a destination in itself. Again I was reminded of Vegas – ornate and over the top with waterfalls, jungles, orchids and a riverboat cruise.

    Nashville for first timers

    Country Music Hall Of Fame

    Nashville knows it’s audience and country music fans are very loyal to this town. Fans can spend hours or days at the Country Music Hall Of Fame as well as many other museums including Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, George Jones and others. Tennessee was also home to three US Presidents (Jackson, Johnson, Polk)and the area around Nashville is full of history relevant to our country.

    Nashville for first timers

    Corn Cakes at the historic Woolworth’s

    I ate a ton – everything from corn cakes to steak, hot chicken, biscuits and macaroni and cheese. Southern comfort food as well as delicious alternatives are in abundance in this town of abundance.

    You can spend a weekend or stay a week and still never see and do everything here.  It’s a great town – alive! Nashville for first timers or do it again? So much fun!

    Y’all should come now ya hear?

    Asia Travel

    Visit South Korea – Spend a Weekend with the Monks

    Location: South Korea

    Visit South Korea for some amazing experiences, delicious foods, spectacular scenery and to spend a weekend with the Monks. You won’t regret it.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Our group together

    I’ve done a lot of cool things in my life.  A few experiences stand out to me.  As I have aged I am more aware how unique some of these moments have been; taking a shower on the Serengeti with water heated over an open fire, eating honey and coffee with the leaders of a village in Ethiopia, sitting cross legged on the floor in the traditional home of an ancient Japanese master paper umbrella artist while he gave my family a personal demonstration of his craft. Swimming with sea lions in Galapagos, dolphins in Zanzibar and Manta Rays in Hawaii.   Participating in the annual bird inventory on Molokai and summiting Warma Wanusqa Peak (13,500 feet) on the Inca Trail in Peru. I’ve danced with the natives in a Burkina Faso village, and discussed motherhood with the Himba women in Namibia.  Remarkable experiences all.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Enjoying our vegetarian meal

    I never really set out to accomplish anything specifically unique.  I only have found myself in situations that seem unique to others.  And these moments are the ones that have defined me and have broadened my awareness of the world.  These moments I hold dear, each difficult to describe or put into words and accurately share.  They are the definition of indescribable.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Learning about the prostrations

    In Korea I had an indescribable experience lucky enough to spend a weekend with the Monks in the Geumsunsa Temple in the mountains outside of Seoul.  Adding this to my list of unique and memorable life experiences.  I really recommend both a visit to South Korea and a weekend with the monks.

    I went into this with next to no knowledge of Buddhism.  I still know very little, but I did gain awareness of a way of life that is not a religion, but a goal to practice living life with an open heart. According to Buddhist traditions a Buddha is a fully awakened being who has completely purified his mind of the three poisons of desire, aversion and ignorance.

    The Geumsunsa Temple is perched on Mount Bukhan to the North and West of Seoul.  We arrived late, our GPS refusing to cooperate and maneuvering through the streets of Seoul without it proved a difficult task.  Once we found the parking lot at the base of the mountain we hiked the last quarter mile straight up the mountain to the temple entrance – the only access to the temple is on foot.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Arne at the silent breakfast

    Arriving late I was frazzled and frantic, and certainly not in a transcendental state of mind, but I took a few deep breaths and prepared myself to spend a weekend with the monks.  We entered in a room with about a dozen other people where the orientation had already begun. We sat quietly in the back trying to catch our breath and catch up on the presentation.  It was presented in both Korean and English.

    We were given a tour of the temple and some history.  The 1000-year-old temple is small compared to some (five monks when some temples have 200) but it is very beautiful and well maintained. I wish I could visit in spring or fall, I’m sure it is spectacular when all the foliage on the mountain is out.

    South Korea a weekend with d with the monks

    Dinnee

    We were served a very good vegetarian dinner with soup, rice and multiple kimchee and vegetable choices.  We were instructed that we had to eat everything that we took, down to the last grain of rice.  No food could be wasted.  We were shown how to use an apple slice to clean our plates of all food remnants so they almost appeared to not even need to be washed.

    South Korea a weekend with d with the monks

    Mindfulness

    Following dinner we were escorted to the Buddha room, a beautiful part of the temple adorned to praise Buddha, the teacher. A Buddhist temple is called Vihara and is a place for education. In the shrine room of each temple is where a large Buddha and statues of his disciples are. Here is where we began our 108 prostrations.  I was worried about accomplishing this task.  Starting in a standing position to lying prone on the floor, methodically and with purpose 108 times in a row.  I was already finding my body was having a great deal of difficulty sitting cross-legged on the floor – an unnatural position for most Americans.  We were instructed how to do the prostrations and how to release our minds from turmoil. The practice of Buddhism is the never-ending humbling of the ego. Humbling yourself before the world, by lowering your body you realize that you are one with everything. Performing 108 prostrations is yet another path towards the realization of the True Self.

    And so we began.  108 times; each prostration symbolizing a goal, or gratitude or repentance; For example; I prostrate myself to show appreciation to my parents for giving birth to me.  Or I prostrate myself to ask forgiveness for people I may have hurt. Or I prostrate myself for a humble mind. Or I prostrate myself for peace among all countries and an end to all wars.

    And on and on, 108 times.  It lasted about 30 minutes and I was sweating and exhausted when it was over.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    The beautiful temple

    We were later asked to choose one of the prostration sentences that spoke to us specifically and we drew pictures then shared with the group.  Many people in the room were brought to tears during this circle time; some feeling stress in their jobs or sadness in lost relationship, and others wanting to show love to their parents who are ailing.  It was an emotional experience for many.  I chose the one that asks to be more humble.  This is truly a goal I have been working on for some time, so it called to me.

    I thought doing 108 prostrations would be the most difficult thing I did during my visit, but no.  Sleeping on the floor was.  Or trying to sleep I should say.  We slept side by side (men and women separated) on an extremely hard floor with a blanket and pillow.  It was a very, very long night.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Arne being flipped during the exercise program

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Tea with one of our host monks

    The bell chimed at 4:30am for wake up.  I wasn’t sad to get up.  I really couldn’t lie there anymore.  Our morning was spent in silence and meditation followed by wake up exercises harder than my yoga classes and then a vegetarian ceremonial breakfast, very ritualistic and eaten in silence.  We all then shared in chores around the temple before sitting down to have tea and a conversation with one of the monks. I think this was my favorite time.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    We really enjoyed our friendly monks

    The monk prepared and poured the tea for us as she answered each and every question we had about her life as a monk, Buddha and Buddhism, philosophy, the temple and much more.  It was fascinating and enlightening to see a human being choose to live this life and walk away from everything materialistic and dedicate everything to the practice of becoming Buddha.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    On top of the sunny mountain

    Finally we headed up the mountain for a beautiful hike on the cold and sunny morning.  We spent time sitting at the top of the mountain enjoying the spectacular scenery and each other’s company and meditating on our time together.  We hiked back to the temple for our vegetarian lunch, paper lantern making and then farewell to our new friends and Temple Geumsunsa.

    South Korea a weekend with the monks

    Farewell to our new friends

    My back and hips were killing me and I was desperate for a nap and a large coffee as we hiked down the path to the car, but my heart and mind were full as I thoughtfully considered what I learned from this experience.  I felt validated in my Fabulous Fifties objectives to not look outside for approval and rather to find it within.  My knowledge that being true to myself, despite what others believe and grateful for all things in my life, good and bad, is the best destiny.  Being honest, forgiving, following my intuition and celebrating the one short life we have is my practice.

    I prostrate myself for a humble mind. Fabulous.

    Note – find out how you can have this experience at http://koreantemples.com/?p=6684

     

    Africa & The Middle East Travel

    Namibia Part II

    Oh The Places You’ll Go

    Location: Namibia

    Namib Desert

    Namibia quickly became one of my favorite countries for its varied landscape, colorful cultures and interesting history.  So although I did not see the entire country, Namibia Part II is an opportunity for me to share a bit about what I saw and learned during my fascinating ten days touring with Wild Wind Safaris.  Namibia Part II – Oh the Places You’ll Go.

    Only a few years ago Namibia never showed up in articles or blogs about travel destinations.  But then all of the sudden there it was – stunning photos of dunes and mountains, animals and oceans.  Article after article listing it as a must see destination of 2017 or an out of the way place to see before the crowds of tourists discover it.

    The furthest south latitude at which the sun is directly overhead at the solstice.

    And so, I wanted to be there.  I wanted to see what few people had yet seen.  Namibia was high on my list.

    Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of tourists, and plenty of tour operators and companies to help you find your way (check out the company we used and were so happy with: Wild Wind Safaris).  But we didn’t meet any other Americans, and 99% of the tourists we met were German.  Germans know about this place and flock here, partly because German is spoken here as is English, Afrikaans and tribal languages.

    Most visitors come to go on safari in Etosha

    Magnificent

    National Park and it is a must of any visit to Namibia (see blog here).  Etosha is not even remotely as crowded as the safari I did seven years ago in the Serengeti with about a million other people.  Etosha was quiet and beautiful and amazing.

    Sociable Weaver nest can House up to 200 birds

    But a trip to Namibia really needs to include time to see and experience more than Etosha.  I’ve come away from the country with an even greater appreciation of the remarkable geology of our earth, and an incredible insight to the importance of preserving cultures and not just objects and nature.

    Our guide explains to Arne

    Until 1990 Namibia was part of South Africa (and from 1884 until after WWI it was a German colony).  Gaining its independence the country has embraced tourism but being such a new country it still has its share of problems.  Like many places we have been, government corruption takes much away from the average person and tribal cultures suffer.  But the roads were remarkably good (even though Namibia has the highest car accident death rate in the world) and the people we met (mostly in the service industry) were incredibly friendly both with each other and us.  In fact some of the friendliest and most genuine people we have met anywhere in our travels are the Namibians.  That really hit home.  We never felt like we were unsafe or being cheated in anyway – although warnings of pick pockets we took seriously.

    Himba women with mud hut

    Namibia has 13 ethnic groups scattered about the country and the native people identify with an ancestral tribe even if they no longer live in the region where that group is.  Our amazing tour guide “Seven” explained to us some of the differences and he could look at nearly every person and know immediately what ethnic group they were from.  Since we didn’t see the entire country we missed learning about most tribes, including the Owambo of the north, the tribe Seven is from.

    We did get to learn about two distinctive tribes – the Himba and the Damara as well as a little bit about the Herero, an offshoot of the Himba.

    Little Himba girl

    Using smoke to “wash” hair

    One of my favorite experiences of the entire ten days was our short visit to a special Himba village where we were able to meet Himba women and children.  Note the photos of these remarkable people.  These are not costumes.  This is the way they dress everyday.  The hair style is really remarkable, and a female Himba begins wearing this hairstyle at puberty.  The adornments are made partially of their real hair and animal hair and are updated every three months.  Because of the shortage of water in the north of Namibia where the Himba people are found, they do not bath with water.  Instead they daily “wash” their hair with smoke – literally holding their head as well as their underarms over a special perfumed smoke (similar to incense) that keeps bugs and (most) odor away.  They also cover their bodies daily with a mixture of butter and ochre as a cleanser and repellant, this is what lends the red tone to their skin.

    Me with ten-year old girl

    The village we visited was a special place because all the children here are orphans.  This is a place where Himba orphans are brought to be raised in the culture of their parents rather than being adopted out of the culture.  The women here care for these children as if they are their own and there is a school here too.  The people are sustained by raising goats and cattle and they have access to a well so water is available but their bathing customs remain the same.

    Damara village

    As we visited the women let us take photos and then they wanted to look at the photos on our phones.  They seem to very much like to see themselves in a photo.  The women’s first question to us was if we had children.  When we said we had grown sons they wanted to know if we had grandchildren.  When I said not yet they wanted to know why not?  Why had we not yet chosen wives for our sons?  My answer that our sons would hopefully marry someday and have kids didn’t seem to satisfy them.  Their entire existence and culture is wrapped around family, child-bearing and daily survival.

    Once again I am reminded of how many people live every day hand to mouth.

    Dancers at Damara village

    We did not visit a Herero village but these people endured near genocide by the Germans who wanted their land and intended to eliminate the Herero race to have it and the 1904 Battle of Waterberg ensued.  Half of the total Herero population was

    Herero Women

    killed. Luckily not all were massacred and today the women have developed a very unique dress that is a unique mix of Victorian gown and petticoat and a unique cloth headpiece that is designed to resemble the horns of a cow.  Today the Herero people continue a battle in court with the German government for retribution for all they lost during the genocide period.

    Damara man building fire

    Swakopmund pier

    The Damara people, the other tribe we learned about, are the oldest tribe in Namibia.  They came from the East and settled in the middle region of the country.   This tribe was primarily hunter gatherers and pastoral, raising cattle and sheep and living off the land. The Damara have an incredibly unique language known as “click” language.  The language uses a complicated system of mouth and tongue clicks and is very musical and fun to hear. The village we visited was a reproduction of how a village would have looked hundreds of years ago.  Where the Himba live in huts made from wood, mud and cow dung, the Damara live in huts made of wood and thatch.  The Damara dress was tied to the animals they raised creating clothing from

    Damara Medicine Woman

    sheepskins.  The women use ochre on their cheeks much like we use blush today.  Music and dance and making ornamental jewelry and carvings were a big part of their culture, where the women did domestic chores and the men tended the livestock.

    Cape Cross Fur Seal colony

    Pink Flamingoes in Walvis Bay

    The geology and scenery of Namibia is as diverse as its ancient people.  The incredibly beautiful red sand dunes of the Sossusvlei region are the oldest dunes in the world and the stark beauty of these dunes is remarkable.  The turquoise blue water of the Atlantic Ocean at Swakopmund in contrast provides visitors and locals a cool get-away from the heat of the interior.  Here on the Atlantic the fog settles every day and so do thousands and thousands of fur seals, flamingoes and other shore birds.  Local seafood is a treat including the KingKlip and Kabaljou two of the most popular and most delicious fish caught locally and served everywhere.

    Welwitschia plant

    Dolerite Dike

    From the ocean heading east within minutes you are back in the arid desert where the welwitschia plant grows – the only region in the world this unusual plant is found and growing as big as ten feet across and living as much as 2000 years I was reminded of Audrey Two in Little Shop of Horrors.  The inhospitable environment has little greenery and almost no animals except birds.  The valley of the moon and eroding  mountain range are desolate yet beautiful in their own way – especially the interesting dolerite dike a natural phenomenon of black sunburnt rock that runs along the ridge of the mountains like the spine of a dragon.  This area is home to the largest Uranium mine in the world.

    Ancient rock etchings

    ANcient rock etchings

    Namibia’s storage hunter-gatherers and Bushman (San) people were nomadic and traveled the country wherever the animals were.  Their history is written on stones in several regions and we visited two fascinating sights to learn more.  The Twyfelfontein site is today a UNESCO Heritage site in the Kuene region. Guides take visitors on a walking tour of the hundreds of rock etchings estimated to be several thousands of years old.  The etchings depict animals as well as human footprints and tell a story of the nomad life and the animals they followed for substenance.  It is thought this place was both a message board and a spiritual gathering place for thousands of years.

    “The White Lady” is the pale figure on the left

    More paintings

    Even more amazing though was the preserved painting of “The White Lady” estimated to be 6000 years old.  This painting is located in a very remote region of the Brandberg Mountain, Namibia’s highest mountain.  It is a two mile hike to visit it.  Not as many people see The White Lady because the trek and the heat make it difficult.  I’m glad we endured it however in 100 degree temperatures.  Very different than the rock etchings, these paintings are preserved because they are inside a cave and out of direct sunlight.  Discovered in 1918 and now a protected heritage site, the White Lady is actually not a lady at all.  Early anthropologists believed it to be an Egyptian women, but today archeologist know it is a local tribal shaman, painted with the traditional white a shaman would have on his legs and body from dust and mud.  The painting includes other human figures and many animals all painted with ochre (red), egg, animals oils, charcoal and blood.  The painting has luckily withstood the test of time, although since its discovery humans have touched it and thrown liquid on it to try and see it better and this has deteriorated it.  Today though it is protected and can only be reached with a guide who makes sure no one does any damage to it.  It was a beautiful and remarkable world heritage site to enjoy.

    Moon landscape

    The Namibian people have a great deal to be proud of and I hope this beautiful country overcomes its problems and finds its strength in the world.  It has so much to offer, charm and beauty, history and culture.  I will never forget my time here and I can say with all seriousness it is by far my favorite African country of the seven I have been to.

    Thank you Namibia.  Thank you Wild Wind Safaris.  Thank you Seven for showing us your remarkable home.

    Africa & The Middle East Travel

    Some days the Grand Adventure just isn’t grand

    A rough start in Namibia

    Location: Namibia

    It was a tough travel day. Maybe as I’m getting older those days are getting harder?  Long travel days can take a toll, and some days on the Grand Adventure just aren’t Grand.

    No flights direct to Namibia from Morocco. We flew from Casablanca to Doha Qatar. The nine-hour flight was fine. Full plane but 787 is a nice plane so comfortable.  Three hour layover in Doha was fine.  Eleven hour flight from Doha to Windhoek Namibia, also a 787, was strangely empty. So we

    Welcome to Namibia

    could stretch out and sleep. But then Arne started to feel poorly, and then really sick.

    My husband never gets sick – it’s always me.

    Landed in very hot Windhoek and began the six-hour drive on gravel road to our desert lodge.  When we arrived at the beautiful lodge Arne immediately went to bed. Where he stayed for the next 24 hours.

    Meanwhile I go to dinner with our guide (whose name is Seven)and the two other guests who are with us for only the first three days.  We enjoyed

    Our cabin at the beautiful Agama River lodge

    dinner and a lovely native song and dance by the staff.

    Woke up at 5:00am for our tour to the UNESCO site of the Namib Desert dunes but Arne was still sick. So I head off on the tour. About an hour down the road I am hit with a wave of nausea, cold sweat and shakes.  We pull over and I dash behind a bush. Ugh.

    Seven decides to take me a half an hour back to a clinic so I can rest there while they continue with

    At the clinic

    the tour. I felt bad and didn’t want the other guests to miss the tour so this seemed like a good solution. We were lucky to be near this clinic as the next one was hundreds of miles away.

    I was the only person at the clinic where I was given some drugs for stomach virus and tucked into bed where I slept for nearly six hours before being retrieved by Seven and returned to the lodge.  I found Arne still in bed but awake.

    Now that we are feeling better, looking forward to seeing lots of wildlife

    So we did not get to see the famous dunes, the world’s oldest.  And we did not get to celebrate our wedding anniversary. But sometimes shit happens.  We are still both not 100% but are eating again and back on the tour.  Lots more to see in  the next week so happy to be on the mend.

    Mama said there would be days like this.  Welcome to Namibia!

     

    Inspire

    One Year of Travel

    The Grand Adventure Abroad

    One full year.  On the move.  Out of the USA.  Living the Grand Adventure.

    Yes it’s already been a year.  So very much has happened. So many miles we’ve traveled.  And I am not the same.

    Thailand

    58,000 Miles

    Living outside of the United States as an American creates such an amazing opportunity to really understand privilege and gluttony and consumerism.  These words I use not only because I am guilty of these things but it is how much of the rest of the world sees Americans. Not flattering.

    Cambodia

    What is a surprise is when we are able to spend quality time with someone we meet in our travels and change their view of the average American.  This means more to me than most anything else over the past year.

    My eyes have been opened, looking back to the USA and my friends there, I now clearly see two kinds of people – those who embrace this image of Americans and cultivate it greedily, happily and knowingly, and those who acknowledge it but want to change it.

    To each his own.  I know both kinds.  But as for me and my travels, there is only one way to

    Vietnam

    move forward in our travels and that is to do anything and everything to debunk the image.  In my own little way – one human at a time. One country at a time.  This is not what I expected when I started this journey but it is important to me now more than ever.

    23 Countries

    New Zealand

    We get asked the same questions over and over, and always the first question is “what has been your favorite so far?”.  It’s become a little joke.  We keep telling each other we need to come up with an answer to this question.  But we honestly don’t have a favorite.  We have favorite things about every place we have been.  We have things we disliked about many places.  Mostly our favorite thing is the surprises and education we get from staying a long

    Laos

    time in a place and really feeling the culture, the food, the religion, the life of the place.  That by far is our favorite thing.  I’ve changed in my travel goals – loving the days we truly are not tourists, the days we are able to haltingly communicate in someone elses language, the days we blend in.  Not the things I was expecting – but definitely

    New Zealand

    the most meaningful of all our “favorite” things.

    We’ve learned most people are sincerely nice and helpful and interested in telling us about their country.  They are proud and patriotic.  And yet so many countries are oblivious to trash and litter and pollution and it can really be astonishing.  Feral cats and stray dogs another big problem in so many countries – as a visitor you notice these things, all while being acutely aware that many people have very little and live on the street as well.  In some countries people just can’t worry about dogs and

    Portugal

    trash – they are just trying to find their next meal. It would be nice to see governments addressing all these issues.  But, none of these things stop us from visiting these places. It is part of the Grand Adventure.

    I’ve become more aware of the negative impact tourism has on many places and I am uncomfortable contributing to that.  Europe is very different in 2017 than the first time I visited 1988. We are tourists some days, while other days we steer away to less traveled and under the radar destinations.  But in a global world things begin to

    Bulgaria

    feel the same – tchosky souvenirs start to look the same in Bulgaria and Morocco. Locally handcrafted? Not likely.

    We’ve learned to sleep in beds hard and soft and eat every imaginable cuisine.  We’ve learned food is a great introduction to culture and a great conversation starter but also a comfort when we feel a bit homesick.  A good taco makes me happy when I miss our old life.

    6 Mexican Restaurants in 4 countries

    We embrace technology for communicating with our children and parents and for tracking so

    Seychelles

    much of our travel details.  I do miss my kids but speak with them frequently and marvel at their own personal journey each is on.  I think the coming Christmas season I’ll feel their absence the most.

    Speaking of holidays, they go by in a blur.  Other than Christmas last year in Thailand, most places

    Bulgaria

    we have been,holidays have shown little consumerism and celebration.  In the USA we embrace every little holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to Halloween and have our own unique set of holidays that we make a big to do over such as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.

    19 holidays abroad

    Croatia

    Holiday celebrations in countries we have been in so far focus mostly on family and religion and food and almost not at all on buying things and decorations or gift giving.  I think it used to be this way in America, but our focus is different now.  As for me, I no longer want the gifts to give or receive.  The experiences we are having are the best gift of all.

    Slovenia

    Sometimes a holiday sneaks up on us.  Because we spend much of our time not even knowing what day or month it is.  When it’s 85 degrees in February or 32 degrees in April my brain and body get confused.  Am I above or below the equator?  Is it winter or summer?  What country am I in?  What day is it?  It’s actually a bit scary how often we have to stop and think about these simple questions.

    I’ve learned how little you need in a day-to-day life

    Portugal

    to feel satisfied.  Although I did get pretty tired of the three sets of clothes I wore over and over on the Camino, in general I don’t desire more than what we currently have in our suitcase.  It’s enough.  I have what is comfortable and works for our life. I still have one pair of shoes in the suitcase that I’ve only worn twice in a year – the low black heel.  I keep looking at those thinking I should throw them away.

    Lost luggage once. Found luggage once.

    I’ve learned to live without a clothes dryer and sometimes without a washing machine. No dishwasher, no movies, no American TV.  Don’t miss it. Don’t need it.

    I’ve also changed as far as what I would describe as “beauty ritual”.  Water conservation in most

    Camino

    countries makes me realize I don’t need to shower and wash my hair every day as I used to.  I no longer wear makeup (except on a rare occasion) and my hair is easy and manageable with a washing every few days. And nobody cares.  Really.  One more thing I can let go of for now at least (and I still get so many compliments on the grey).

    3 hair cuts 

    Occasionally I have a nesting urge – when I miss my

    Spain

    house and garden – but it’s rare.  Sometimes I see things I’d like to buy for a future home but I check myself.  Sure the Moroccan rugs are stunning – but, I really don’t know what my next house will look like so I walk away.  Save my money for an experience instead of a thing.

    Our “home” over the past year, and actually over the past 19 months since we closed the door and walked away from our house in Gig Harbor, our home has been wherever we are at the moment.  When people ask where we are from we say the United States, Washington or Seattle, depending on who we are talking to.  And if we meet someone from the Pacific Northwest we say Gig Harbor.  But really none of

    Tunisia

    those places are home.  Where is home?  Right this minute as I write this it’s Morocco.  In a few days it will be Namibia. On Christmas it will be South Africa.  Home is where I am with Arne at this moment.

    27 Airbnb’s 

    63 other lodgings (boats, hotels, apartments, Kiwi Caravan and Albergues includes 41 nights on the Camino)

    I read more than I ever have in my entire life.  I walk more than I ever thought possible. Yoga is a very important part of our lives to keep us going. I challenge myself at almost 58 years old in ways I could never, would never have even considered at 28 or 38.  I see myself in an entirely different way than I did just ten years ago.  I am better, stronger, smarter, happier and more relaxed than at any other time in

    Morocco

    my life.

    This is not a coincidence.  It is entirely by design.

    I want to influence and encourage other people to seek happiness for themselves.  Not my kind of happiness but yours – whatever that is. I ignore those who push negativity towards me – and yes they are out there. Masquerading as “friends” on Facebook while criticizing our life, our message, our politics our choices and our success.  I don’t ask or expect everyone to understand this journey I’m on.  But it’s not about you is it?  It’s about us and it is exactly what we needed and when we needed it.

    Morocco

    62 books read

    20 pounds lost

    2446 miles walked

    And every day of this journey, nearly every minute of it and every mile has been spent with my best friend Arne.  People have asked if we get tired of each other?  Nope.  In fact the opposite.  We find we are the best companions – encouraging and collaborating better now than ever in our entire lives.  It’s both a test and a testament to our relationship and how we have developed it and defined it over the years.  We celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow as a matter of fact.  Yes we do, it seems like we have been married forever, and

    Vietnam

    I hope forever is how long we will be together.

    35 years

    And now year two begins.  Can I do this forever?  I doubt it.  Some times it’s exhausting and frustrating.  Those times are infrequent though so I think I can do it for quit a while longer.  So for the next six months we have ten more countries before heading back to the USA for a two and a half month visit.  Then we will finish year two back in Europe and Africa.  We are already toying with ideas for year three.  But it’s a bit too soon.  Let’s not get

    The family last Christmas in Thailand

    ahead of ourselves.  Take it just a few months at a time is best.

    Thank you for sticking with us this past year and continuing to love our blog because the blog is a labor of love for me.  Tomorrow we fly to Namibia for ten days then on to South Africa where we plan to really relax for three weeks as we end 2017. A year for the record books!

    One year. One fabulous year!  Year two here we come!