Where Were We Wednesdays (#5)

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Each week in WWWW I post a photo of somewhere we’ve visited during our trip. Guess where we were, and you could win a little prize! This week’s winner will receive a few artsy Polaroid photos.

Here’s this week’s picture.

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Last Week’s Winner

This photo was taken at Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park. Rose had the correct answer yet again! Luckily we still haven’t sent her prize from last week, so now she’ll get both a souvenir penny and some seashells. And, we’ll send Gus some goodies, too, for being a first-time player!

The Importance of Plucking Your Eyebrows…and Other Tips for Long Term Travel

1. Make Enemies

Having an outside enemy can help dispel the tension that inevitably builds up during travel and prevent you from snapping at your beloved travel partner. No matter how well you get along, it’s possible to get snippy with person you’re spending every day with, usually for really nonsensical reasons. Picking on an outside scapegoat helps vent that frustration. Here in the Propane Kitchen, we’re against people who use hiking poles on paved trails, Vibram 5-Finger shoes and a certain radio DJ. The more absurd your scapegoats, the better. The point isn’t to genuinely dislike people; the point is to laugh a bit and remind yourselves you’re on the same team.

2. Get a Job

Not a real job, of course, but a Trip Job, a task which you own and take responsibility for every day, something along the lines of cleaning the sink, reading the map or preparing snacks. Divide what needs to be done to give your leisure days a little structure. Easy, right? Now comes the tricky part – don’t comment on how your travel companion does his/her jobs. The right way isn’t always your way. Just shut up, let them do their work and be grateful it’s done.

3. Find a Way to be Alone

There are big ways and small ways of being alone. Big ways are obvious things like taking solo hikes or spending a few days apart. On this trip, I’ve found it’s harder to come by the small moments of alone time that happen easily when you have a house with multiple rooms and separate routines. Whether by putting on headphones or diving into a book, it’s important to snatch a few moments of privacy and find a way to be alone even when you are sitting right next to another person. This is where plucking my eyebrows comes in – it’s an excuse to shut the bathroom door and do my own little thing for 15 minutes. I emerge well groomed and more content.

4. Take a Break

 Oh, another stunning vista? Yeah, wake me for the next one.

You know how the first bite of a ripe peach is so incredible, but by the end of summer a ripe peach just isn’t as special any more? The same thing happens with scenery. Over-saturation with sight-seeing and constant active appreciation can dull your senses. Yet, on any kind of vacation, the urge is to constantly See! Do! Experience! Building regular breaks into your travel schedule allows you to more fully take in that next National Park or historic site. Contrast natural beauty with a few days in a city. Active days with lazy ones. At least one full day off every two weeks has worked well for us.

5.  Indulge in the Ridiculous

Also known as, keep yourself entertained. Though hard to imagine, a long-term trip is not constantly exciting. When you’re cooped up inside on the third rainy day in a row, talking exclusively in fake Southern accents keeps things lively.

Y’all be sure to come back now and read about more of our adventures, ya hear?

Where Were We Wednesdays (#4)

Each week in WWWW I post a photo of somewhere we’ve visited during our trip. Guess where we were, and you could win a little prize! This week’s winner will receive gorgeous Florida sea shells we found on the beach.

Here’s this week’s picture.

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Last Week’s Winner

This photo was taken at the Louisville Slugger factory in Louisville, KY. Rose had the correct answer and will receive a souvenir penny! Thanks for playing!

Pensacola Beach, FL

All of Saturday the rain played the roof like a snare drum. A wet morning slid into a wet afternoon passed with Words With Friends and cups of tea. The wind slashed at the bushes. Someone put a raincoat on a dog. With dark nearing, we lumbered into town for chowder and a beer. The restaurant was an enclosed patio, excellent if there’s sunshine to bask in, but despite heat lamps and tropical shirts on all the waitresses, it felt chilly during the storm. The Minnie was warm and snug, glowing like a lantern and welcoming us back home.

Pensacola Beach, white sand beach, Florida

Pensacola Beach, White Sand Beach, Florida

Sunday dawned bright and blue as if there never were things called clouds. The sand here is the whitest in the world, if you believe the tourist information. I wouldn’t be one to argue, because the sand is amazing. Pure clean white, with a texture that begs for bare toes. All through the campground people were jolly and blinking in the sun as though the rain had stayed for months, not just a day. “This is the life,” shouted a shorts-wearing sunbather as I strolled by. At sunset the sand turned pink as the orange orb slowly sank into the sea. It was the kind of day that makes a gal feel lucky. Continue reading

Ocean Springs, MS

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This little Carolina Anole put on quite a show yesterday at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We watched, rapt, as he changed colors from bright green to brown. Then, with a flourish, he proceeded to pull the old skin off his tail and eat it. Perhaps not your idea of a tasty snack, but incredible to see nonetheless.

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Where Were We Wednesdays (#3)

Each week in WWWW I’ll post a photo of somewhere we’ve visited during our trip. Guess where we were, and you could win a little prize! This week’s winner will receive a pressed souvenir penny.

Here’s this week’s picture.

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Last Week’s Winner

This photo was taken at Lake Louise, near Banff, British Columbia. We drew a random number from our three correct guesses. Congrats to Kristie, our winner! She’ll receive some Mardi Gras beads. Thanks for playing!

Where Were We Wednesdays (#2)

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Last week, I introduced Where Were We Wednesdays. Each week I’ll post a new photo from some place we’ve visited on our journey. Guess where we were, and you could receive a little trinket we’ve found on our travels. This week’s prize is authentic Mardi Gras beads from a parade in New Roads, LA!

Here’s this week’s photo.

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums. This particular picture was from early in our trip, up north.

Last Week’s Winner(s)

The first photo was taken at Ancient Bristlecone Forest in the Eastern Sierras. Jack guessed correctly and wins a postcard! My mom guessed correctly on Facebook so she’ll get a postcard, too. And so will my brother, because he was the first to enter. When you make the game, you can choose a lot of winners. Thanks for playing!

Where Were We Wednesdays (#1)

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What better way to show off some of the zillions of additional photos we’ve taken than to introduce a new series, Where Were We Wednesdays. Each week, I’ll post a never-before-blogged photo and ask You, loyal blog reader to tell us Where We Were when the pic was taken. The winner will receive a postcard or other little prize. Fun, eh? Maybe? I hope so.

Here’s the first photo to kick things off!

Where were we?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Montezuma, Costa Rica, Part II

This is not a blog worthy picture*. It’s blurry and grainy and a bit out of focus. But! Do you see that aqua streak in the water? That wave is glowing.

Let me say that again. The waves. Are glowing. Lit from within by a bloom of noctilucales, a kind of  bioluminescent dinoflagellates, bright as if each wave was threaded with LED lights. (This photo from Wikipedia is a much better example.) Montezuma really pulled out all the stops for us.

Even without the glowing waves, we would’ve been impressed with the food. The most outstanding was Playa de los Artistas, which nearly warrants a trip to Montezuma all on its own. Sitting directly on the beach at a table made from driftwood, we had wahoo tuna sashimi so fresh, so perfectly dressed in a light vinaigrette, so divine I have dreams about it.  Then came seafood lasagna in delicate pasta that somehow managed to be both rich and light and pork tenderloin so tender it didn’t even require a knife to cut. And that was just on our first visit. The menu changes daily to make the most of the day’s catch.

Playa de los Artistas, Montezuma, Costa Rica

At Puggo’s, half an eggplant was baked until it was nearly creamy on the inside, then topped with bubbly parmesan, served with a garlicky tomato salad. Fresh focaccia hot from their brick oven was the perfect accompaniment. We also tried “Cuban Cigars”, savory beef rolled in crispy phyllo dough, paired with lentils and hummus. Soda Naranjo, already mentioned last week, had excellent Tico food, from Casados (literally means things that are “married” on the plate – imagine beans, rice, chicken/fish/pork and salads) to Rice with Seafood and Rice with Chicken.

roasted eggplant, Puggo's, Montezuma, Costa Rica

We stayed at the Mariposario, a bright, modern B&B run by two welcoming brothers from Portland, OR. The breakfasts were the best of our entire trip, with French toast, omelets, or home fries greeting us each morning on the jungle-view veranda. Pineapple, watermelon and papaya, some of which are grown on site, tasted so much juicier than what we get here in the States they almost seemed like entirely different fruits.

The Mariposario’s on-site butterfly garden offers an up-close look at the famed Blue Morpho butterflies along with a dozen other species.  Plus, it’s a quick walk from the B&B to the top of the Montezuma waterfalls.

* There’s one more reason this blurry photo is so special…that beach is where we got engaged! Patrick popped the big question at sunset, and we celebrated with a memorable dinner at Playa de los Artistas. We’ve made a pact that we’ll visit again for our 5th wedding anniversary.

Montezuma, Costa Rica

I’ve never considered myself a “beach vacation” sort of person. I typically choose sightseeing & museums in big cities or camping (or, ahem, a trip around the country) when I need a break.

Montezuma, Costa Rica may have changed that. Set on the Nicoya Peninsula right on the bathtub warm Pacific, Montezuma is a relaxed haven populated with ex-pats, surfers and Ticos. The palm-fringed beaches curve gently down to the turquoise sea where swimmers bob like rainbow-colored buoys.

It’s idyllic, of course, but not for scenery alone. There’s a laid-back vibe permeating the town, a feeling you breathe in on hibiscus-scented, humid air. Languidly reading in a hammock or lolling on the beach, I’ve never felt so completely disconnected. I literally forgot what month it was.

Motivation disappeared with the tides. Our planned three-night stay turned to nine and only the nagging thought that we should probably see more of this country caused us to move on. More photos and details about where to stay & dine when you visit (because you should) still to come. Pura Vida.

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Is it cruel to post a photo like this in January?