Fun stuff, Travel Advice

My first Dollar Tree haul: Travel Edition

September 26, 2016 • By
Note
Today’s post is the first of a new blogging challenge from Darren Rowse of Problogger.net! The challenge is create new embedded content, which can consist of video, instagram photos, tweets, etc. I am particularly excited because it marks my first attempt at creating a personalized video for my readers.

dollar-tree-1

I was really excited for the opportunity to make a video for this challenge.  I have never created a video that allowed me to speak directly to my readers, so this was an awesome opportunity.

I was thrilled to make this video and I really want to do this again because I had fun, but since this is my first time, I am sure that I made some rookie mistakes. However, I did enjoy talking about my subject, the Dollar Store, so the key is to discuss what you truly enjoy.READ MORE


City Views, North America

Travel Photo Thursday

September 15, 2016 • By

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Las Vegas

During the first day of our recent trip to Las Vegas, we embarked on one of our favorite pastimes, a city bus tour. Despite the annoyingly repetitive warnings from the tour narrator to hop off at one of the popular stops, we remained in our seats fixated by the glimpse of life “off-strip”.

As the timeworn vessel careened around the tightest of corners, causing the wind to whip through the bone-straight hair of the woman who sat in front of me, we waited patiently for something of note on this excursion through downtown. Somewhere between The Mob Museum and the World Market Center, we found it in the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and operated by the Cleveland Clinic, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health focuses on the research, treatment, early detection and prevention of Alzheimer’s, ALS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. It’s clear from the rolling walls of 199 divergent windows, Gehry’s intention was to create a structure that is as unforgettable as its cause.


North America, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

Visiting the Grand Canyon with Red Rock Canyon tours

September 6, 2016 • By

Alright, I have to admit that I have been on a tear when it comes to visiting as many U.S. Parks as I can before my annual pass expires.  So far, I have been to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks and more recently, The Great Smoky Mountains.  We decided to add The Grand Canyon to the list while planning our trip to Las Vegas.

The problem that we encountered is that there are so many tour companies who will pick you up from your hotel off the Las Vegas strip and after doing the same thing for each successive passenger, they will finally pull off hours later to your final destination.  Some of the tours will make a stop at the Hoover Dam, which is becoming less of an attraction due to the drought.

Quite frankly, it was difficult to distinguish one service from another, so how do you ensure that you’ll make the best choice?  Well, I decided to pay a visit to TripAdvisor, which allows you to read real reviews from real travelers about specific hospitality services.  I came across one tour that really appealed to me because it was run by a gentleman by the name of Tom Dziadek whose stellar reviews won me over.

A little background about Tom’s company

His company, Red Rock Canyon Tours, started out unsurprisingly as a tour company that served visitors to Red Rock Canyon six years ago.  Two years ago, Tom decided to apply his wealth of knowledge about the Grand Canyon into a full service group tour for people visiting Las Vegas.   While his fledgling website leaves a little to be desired, it was fairly easy to see what he offered in comparison to other companies and it was easy to purchase our tickets on his site.

The prices were slightly higher than the rest of the tours ($119.00 PP/entrance fee included), but I was happy to pay it because the maximum number of participants on Tom’s shuttle would be 14, we would leave earlier than the rest of the luxury tour buses which meant we would arrive before they would and have ample time to explore and take photos before the rest of the hoards arrived.

We were told to meet in what was essentially a passageway between the Paris Las Vegas hotel and the CVS pharmacy next door to it.  It was where taxis and limousines would park to pick up their fare.  I must caution you that Tom takes his schedule seriously, so do not be late!!  As each person arrived, he had you to fill out the standard liability contract that you must sign before leaving at 6 a.m. sharp.

We took our seats but I must confess, that while the shuttle is comfortable, if you are tall, you will have a problem.  We had two stops along the way for a bathroom break, coffee, food, etc. and I mentioned to Tom that my legs were cramped and his relief driver, Kevin, happily gave up his front passenger seat to ensure my comfort.  I was able to keep that seat the rest of the way and on the return trip.READ MORE


Lifestyle, Reviews

The Absolute Best Shoes For Sightseeing

August 23, 2016 • By

After months of planning, you’re finally ready to embark on that much-needed vacation. Armed for a week of glorious sightseeing, you’ve got the plane tickets, the rental car and hotel confirmations and an array of outfits for different occasions. But did you remember the most important item of all: a comfortable pair of shoes?

We’ve all seen her, Impractical Irene. The kind of woman who wears stilettos for a day at the museum or espadrilles for a hike in Yellowstone. For Impractical Irene, fashion trumps comfort. For me, comfort is the number one priority and I have found the Holy Grail: The Skechers Go Walk 3 Solar.

Skechers Go Walk 3 Solar Sightseeing

A Mighty Need

Working twelve hour shifts on hard, concrete floors have been murder on my poor feet. For the past few months, I’ve tried different inserts to alleviate the pain from being on my feet all day. Gel nor memory foam could soothe the ache in my beaten down arches so I decided it was time to say goodbye to my issued shoes and hello to pain-free living.READ MORE


Travel Advice

Packing cubes: the essential tools of Team Carryon

August 18, 2016 • By

You may recall that I offered my 12 travel packing tips, a few years back and while they are still valid, it’s always cool to know that there are new developments on the airline baggage front.  It all began with the old fashioned plastic vacuum packs that you could store your clothes in and suction out the excess air with a vacuum cleaner.  Good times, right?

Now, fast forward a few years and the newest tool in efficient packing are packing cubes.  What are they, you ask?  They are small cloth cases with patches of netting that allow the clothes to breathe and sturdy zippers to contain them.

shacke pak 4

Let’s face it.  We are all guilty of over packing and you can never fully appreciate what problems it causes until you arrive at your destination.  You almost never wear everything that you’ve packed or you feel as if you didn’t pack enough.  By planning ahead and thinking realistically, you can narrow down your choices based on what you actually plan to do on your vacation.READ MORE


Travel Advice

Racial profiling in aviation

August 7, 2016 • By
Note
Hello Readers! Today’s post is the sixth of seven daily posts that I am writing for the Problogger ‘Find Your Blogging Groove’ challenge. It’s meant to encourage bloggers to post more frequently and thoughtfully. Today, I am going to write a “Discussion” post that I hope will encourage a dialogue about this compelling issue.  If you wouldn’t mind, please do me a HUGE favor and respond to the 5 question anonymous survey that will appear as a pop-up below.

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One of the most controversial stories in travel news today is the reports of Muslims being removed from airline flights for seemingly innocuous reasons.

Just this week, two American Muslim women were asked to leave an American Airlines flight after one of them talked to another (white male) passenger about the lack of food and water during their five hour delay on the tarmac.  The male attendant claimed that they (the woman who was complaining and her friend who happened to have been watching a tv drama at the time) made him feel unsafe.

The attendant told her “If you have a problem, you can get off the plane.”  The woman asked him for his name since he wasn’t wearing a badge and he refused.  She decided to take a photo of him so that she would be able to identify him when she lodged a complaint.  She and her friend were essentially escorted out because the photo taking was a violation.READ MORE


Consumer Advice

How to add an old photo to your Instagram account

August 6, 2016 • By
Note
Hello Readers! Today’s post is the fifth of seven daily posts that I am writing for the Problogger ‘Find Your Blogging Groove’ challenge. It’s meant to encourage bloggers to post more frequently and thoughtfully. Today, I am going to write a “How To” post that I hope will be useful to someone. 

This is something that I recently learned and I am happy to share it with my readers!  I am ashamed to admit that I have had an Instagram account for about three years and only began to start using it last week!  I think that I was frustrated that the platform is set up for instant photos in real time and I had literally THOUSANDS of photos that I wanted to share with my followers.  So, you can imagine my frustration.

Eureka!  You can now use all of your treasured photos on Instagram!

Fortunately, I found out that you can utilize a popular social media management system called Hootsuite to facilitate this.  If you don’t already have a Hootsuite account, sign up for one here.  You will only need the free desktop version.  Next, you will need to download two apps (if you don’t already have them) : Hootsuite and Instagram and both are free.

Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts to your social media accounts.  Once you have logged in, go to your dashboard, which will look like this:READ MORE


Fun stuff

After the love has gone

August 5, 2016 • By
Note
Hello Readers! Today’s post is the fourth of seven daily posts that I am writing for the Problogger ‘Find Your Blogging Groove’ challenge. It’s meant to encourage bloggers to post more frequently and thoughtfully. Today, I am going to write a fictional story about a troubled relationship.  Yeah, it’s a bit of a downer, but I wanted to try something markedly different .

“Don’t just stand there, you freaking idiot!”

His body automatically tensed at the harshness of her words, so he stayed still simply out of defiance.

He tried to remember when he’d decided to give up all of his power to her.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  One is groomed to eventually become someone else’s punching bag.  At some point you’re made to feel like you’ve done something to earn that abuse, so you quietly accept your fate.

Victimizers know how to train their prey and Robert was well-trained.

He finally reached down to pick up the bags full of useless stuff that she bought to fill the void in their loveless relationship.

He glanced up to see the permanent scowl that he’d become so familiar with and grinned in spite of himself when he realized that he couldn’t recall what she looked like smiling.

Marriage (1)READ MORE


Budget Tips, Consumer Advice

My review of Swimsuitsforall.com

August 4, 2016 • By
Note
Hello Readers! Today’s post is the third of seven daily posts that I am writing for the Problogger ‘Find Your Blogging Groove’ challenge. It’s meant to encourage bloggers to post more frequently and thoughtfully. Today, I am going to review an online shopping venue that I have fallen in love with.

If ever there was an equalizer among women, it’s the historically proven fact that we all HATE trying on and or buying swimsuits.  Just my biased opinion, but I’ve never understood why slimmer women balk at having to try on suits.  Traditionally, I think the market always attempted to serve them.

If you were a bit on the large size and assuming that manufacturers even bothered to make swimsuits in your size, you could expect the very worst. From garish animal prints made out of bullet-proof fabric to psychedelic paisleys confusing enough to make the most inebriated, sober, swimsuits for fluffy people leave a lot to be desired.

On occasion, you might find something acceptable in the plus sized stores located in your neighborhood mall, but that was because you literally had no other choice.  Besides, how can you have a proper vacation playing beach ball in a tank top and shorts?  Luckily, one company heard the choir of voices crying out in the wilderness and proceeded to not only answer those cries, but to do it in such an impressive and stylish way.READ MORE


Newbie How-to's, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to enduring long International Flights

August 3, 2016 • By
Note
Hello Readers! Today’s post is the second of seven daily posts that I am writing for the Problogger ‘Find Your Blogging Groove’ challenge. It’s meant to encourage bloggers to post more frequently and thoughtfully. I am going to add a new installment to my Newbie’s Guide series and I hope that you find it helpful to you!

You did it!  You’ve just booked your first international trip and you are stoked!!  You’ve always dreamed of seeing _____ (insert your dream destination) and you now have to become acquainted with the fact that you will be traveling a fairly long distance.

How long you say?  Depending on where you plan to land, you can count on at least 8 hours of flight time.  That’s a long time to sit in a flying tin can, but fear not, I will give you some tips on how to get through the experience without losing your marbles.

long haul

First, take care of some housekeeping issues before your trip

If you are not currently signed up with the Global Entry program, I would advise you to do so.  It will save you a major headache when traveling period, but especially internationally.  It will allow you to smoothly transition from customs to your gate during your departure and from customs to your destination upon arrival.READ MORE