Posted in Travel

Amore Reflexology

Amore’ Reflexology

When my sister asked me to join her for an appointment for reflexology I was all in. I love a massage, any kind of massage.
When we arrived the woman who were leaving were in the lobby looking very relaxed, almost rubbery and they glided out the door with almost drunken smiles. Soon after we were led into a low lit room with soft nature music in the background.
This was a little different from a massage, you stay fully clothed (except your shoes), and your in the same room as a few others. You start in a huge recliner type chair with your feet submerged in warm water (which feels amazing). And then the masseuse/reflexologist starts their magic. It’s a combination of massage and stretches some your wondering how they contorted your body into, but each one the perfect compliment to the next or previous part of the massage. When they were done I was relaxed, energetic and my sinuses felt clear!
It was a one hour treatment with the cost only being $35.00! I have paid twice that for massages in the past and walked away disappointed. If I lived in Houston I would be at this place at least once a week.

* 4003 Bellaire Blvd. Ste. G
* Houston, TX 77025

Posted in Travel

Middle Seat Flyers Are People Too!

Middle Seat Etiquette
I recently flew southwest airlines from San Antonio to Houston, It was the typical Southwest scenario, full flight, every seat taken, and Southwest does not have assigned seating.   Don and I were traveling together so I took the middle seat so he could sit on the aisle for more leg room. Don as always was the perfect travel companion, but sitting in the middle seat I was reminded that those in the middle seat will as always have the most unpleasant flight experience unless other flyers consider some brief rules of “middle seat etiquette”, because lets face it, middle seat flyers are people too.
Rule 1 – Arm space – Come on guys, you window person, you can lean on the wall, so why are you hogging the arm rest, plus YOU HAVE A WINDOW!. You on the aisle, okay, you have nothing to lean on, but you can lean toward the aisle (unless the service cart is coming), or you can get up whenever you want without bothering anyone, so give the middle seat the some armrest consideration, flyers.
Rule 2 – Leg Space – Southwest does have exceptionally tiny little seats with minimal space to put your legs, put the same rules apply as do with arm space. Don’t sit there with your legs spread wide open and your knees in front of the seat next to you. You know the middle seat cost just as much as your ticket. This is not your living room!
So share!
Rule 3 – Lights and Air – How much light does one person need glaring in their face. I hate it when people just want a little light so they adjust the light away, towards….the middle seat of course. The same with the air vent, my hair should not look like I am posing for a fashion magazine  or driving in a convertible while in flight.
Rule 4 – Be nice – well that goes for anyone in your tiny little flight row, remember we are all paying a small fortune for the privilege of sitting in that microscopic space together. So be kind to your fellow flyers. Don’t blast your music so high that it can be heard through your headphones, don’t point your offensive movies towards others in the row.  And if your going to bring food on board please dont ask for extra garlic or onions, and dont use that poor middle seat person as your garbage can when your done eating.
Be kind to those in the middle, because someday that middle seat may belong to you, and I promise karma sucks.

Posted in Travel

Hawaii Sea Spirits

I love vodka, as does my Husband Don, so when we found out the Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and distillery home of Ocean Organic Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum was on Maui, I knew this had to be one of our stops while on the island. We arrived at the beautiful property just in time for the final tour of the day.
Our tour guide was Earl, he was very knowledgeable about the process of making the vodka and rum they make on the farm. He informed us about everything from the self sustaining well water supply and solar power to the different kinds of sugar cane on the farm even the best daiquiri recipe, using their rum. He commented if ever was a zombie apocalypse, this was the place to be, with ample supplies of power, water and spirits you would be set.
Part of the tour is a tasting. Even this part of the tour is an education. First we enjoyed a sample of the water used in their bottling process, then three small sips of vodka so we can get the true taste of the delicious velvety clean tasting vodka. Then came the rum. Again, Earl was brilliant as he explained the process and challenged us to savor the flavors we would experience as we tasted.
The tour is $25.00 per person plus your ID, (be sure to have it with you they take this very seriously. The cost includes a fabulous tour, a small tasting of both their vodka and rum, as well as a commemorative shot glass.
If you want to purchase anything they are very helpful with assisting you in packing things up to make them travel safe. The distillery is a 20 minute drive from OGG airport, so a good stop when you arrive or depart.

Posted in Travel

Sailing into The Hawaiian Sunset

84b4d681-d45f-495e-95aa-43359b980147Don and I wanted to find a special place to have dinner our last night in Honolulu this trip. So when we found out about the Star of Honolulu and its sunset dinner cruise, we decided that would be perfect.
When we arrived at Pier 8 we were greeted by hula dancers and musicians, making us feel as if we were royalty. We were lead to the top deck where we met the ships captain and more musicians and dancers who entertained. We were served champagne and canapés before being brought to our seats to begin our 7 course meal.
The food was delicious, and there was never a rush to finish. The menu was pre-determined so no need to make any decisions (though they do offer a special menu for those with diet restrictions or allergies, you need to inform them ahead at booking). All we had to to was enjoy each other’s company and the beautiful view, then a new course was brought out.
So often when you take a touristy type cruise like this you wind up eating rubbery chicken or over cooked meat. But that was not at all the case, each course was more delicious then the last. We started a fabulous asparagus soup followed by a golden beet salad. During the salad, the waiter, Jan, poured us a glass of champagne for the Captains toast prior to the main course.
The toast was brief but elegant and well received by all of the guests. Then on to the flown in Maine Lobster chased with a palate cleansing sorbet and then beef tenderloin, finally a delicious chocolate cake with chocolate gelato for dessert.
Our on board package included three alcoholic beverages. To start I chose a delicious perfectly poured rainbow martini. Don had margarita “rocks, no salt”. With dinner we chose a lovely red wine and a Remy Martin VSOP to compliment our dessert.
The wait staff was friendly and very attentive. If we were out on deck watching the sunset or the view of Diamond Head they would wait for us to return before bringing out the next course, so our food never got cold. There was even someone nearby to help take photos of you and your guest(s).
During our meal, we were entertained with beautiful music and hula dancing. And after dinner, we danced along with a jazz trio who performed for us. The experience was like something from a classic 1940’s move.
When outside, we could hear the music and sounds from the lower decks, each package you could purchase had its own unique charm. We wished for more time so we could have wandered down to the other areas to take in the fun dancing and singing that was going on around us. But this night was perfectly romantic and dreamy.
On our deck there were nine or ten honeymooning couples and a small group of friends together for a reunion and us. The MC introduced and applauded the honeymooners, then introduced us as the couple who had been married thirty years. A chorus of oohs and ahas erupted into a raucous applause from the honeymooners. We were embarrassed by the attention, they may have been impressed with our thirty years, but we were envious of their bright futures, remembering how excited we had been thirty years ago to be starting our journey in life together.
At the end of the night we were honored when they asked to be able to take a photo with us.
The night was like a perfect dream, and I will look forward to coming back to Honolulu for another evening on the Star of Honolulu, maybe we will try the party atmosphere and book a lower deck. The 5 Star deck was amazing but variety is the spice of life. Now you know one of the secrets to thirty great years with my best friend.

Posted in Travel

Climbing Koko Head

They say ignorance is bliss, and it was ignorance that allowed me to climb Koko Head in Hawaii two years ago.
Don heard from a coworker that sunrise from the top of Koko Head was a must see while on Oahu. We looked it up, and found that it was a medium difficulty level to climb. . I am not in the best of shape, but was ok with pushing myself for the promise of a beautiful sunrise. So on the second day of our vacation we were up at 4 am, following GPS instructions anxious for our sunrise adventure. We kept finding ourselves in a local neighborhood, after forty five minutes of “What is wrong with the GPS we realized we needed to drive through the neighborhood to reach the trailhead.
There was no moon and very dark when we arrived at the park. We could not see the top, only a strange shadowy shape cut against the stars.
Warning sign number one!
The trail was dark, it looked slightly daunting, but not so difficult. There were multiple warning signs at the bottom but we were too excited or maybe it was just too dark to notice them.
Warning sign number two!
We headed up the stairs, I started the climb with an excited run, “This is going to be a great workout.” I said, the darkness blinding me to just how far it was to the top.
What I had not know was that the “steps” were actually a train tracks built during World War II to haul people and equipment to the top. So these were not your typical stairs. The steps were actually one thousand and forty eight railroad ties, some of them were in bad shape. Broken, bent and dirty making the climb slippery and difficult. Hence the local nickname, “The 1,000 steps of doom”.

Warning sign number three!
It’s a good thing my flashlight only could see a few steps ahead of me, because if I had been able to see the steep climb I may have turned back. We had been warned that part of the climb was on a bridge and that some bees had taken up residence and since we were unable to see the drop underneath we opted for the alternate trip around through little gully on the side of the bridge.
Up up we climbed. If this were the Stairway to Heaven then the climb certainly was our purgatory to get there. As we climbed we were joined by many other would be adventurers, some who ran this daily as their work out, people of all ages were climbing this in hopes of seeing an amazing sunrise, to stay healthy or just as a personal challenge. The other hikers were encouraging us, “Your almost there!” they would tell me as they zoomed past me with their perfect bodies. Finally I could see the top, there were several people taking selfies with their best “Rocky” poses.
I was almost there I panted, I wondered if they had oxygen at the top as my lungs felt as though they were about to explode.
Don and I rested at the top before walking around to the the east side where the sun had just started peaking its head over the horizon. The views and the colors the sunrise made over the top were spectacular. All the pain from the climb was gone, as I realized the climb was worth the view.


We remained on top for nearly an hour, walking around taking in the multiple views from the top, it was so breathtaking that I never wanted to leave, plus part of me dreaded the climb down, which I knew was going to be painful.
Finally after realizing that we probably could not stay up there forever, I surrendered to starting the decent down. It was daylight now and looking down, I was amazed at the climb Don and I had made in the dark that morning. There were stairs towards the top were set at a near 90 degree angle. Well not really, it just felt like that. “We did that?” I asked Don, stalling while I tried to figure out how the heck we were going to get down without the ignorance of darkness on our side. No side rails, no even steps, just what seemed like miles of shaky tracks.
Down we climbed, when I got tired I sat down and slid down part of the trail (which actually was a bit fun).
At the bottom my legs felt like jello, I am sure others in the park must have thought I was intoxicated as I struggled to make my way to our car.
It took lots of Advil and stretching before my legs recovered, but now, finally, two years later, my legs are okay.
On our trip back to Hawaii this year I asked Don to go by the park so I could see Koko Head in the daylight to make sure I had not over exaggerated the climb. This time the thought of it seemed even more daunting. “We should get back in shape so we can climb it again our next trip.”
“Sure” Don said smiling, “I will let you take the lead on that one.”

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Boozing, Cruising and Snoozing on The Coast Starlight

The Coast Starlight has a nice dining car, if your staying in a sleeper car (aka first class) your meals are part of the service. If your in business class, you get a $6.00 off coupon to apply to your food or drinks. In coach your meals are full price, but the dining car is available to everyone.
At breakfast the meals are first come first served, but lunch and dinner are by reservation. The food quality is a little hit or miss. The hamburgers were average and the chicken was dry but the steak was perfect and tender and the turkey was yummy. Our expectations for breakfast were high. After all, how hard is it to make breakfast? Apparently on a train, it is.
The dining staff was efficient at getting people in and out. Don’t go to the dining car with the idea of having a private intimate meal. Even if every table was open, they will find someone else to put at a table with you. It’s 100% community seating.
However, we were very lucky to have some interesting dining companions and great dinner conversations.
If you are booked in a sleeper car on the Coast Starlight check out the Parlor Car. This car is what makes this train unique as there are only 5 of these cars in the entire Amtrak fleet. It has comfortable seating where you can mingle with other train riders. Make sure to look for Oscar while in the Parlor Car, he will mix you up a delicious cocktail for your ride.
They also offer an afternoon wine tasting for $7.50 per person, where you get 3 generous samples of different wines. The wines are for sale on board afterwards, if you want a bottle for later. You can also get snacks and light meals on this car until 10:30 pm. .
We got a deluxe bedroom sleeper car that had seating, a small table and a full bathroom (the shower and toilet were in the same space, and there was a tiny sink on the outside). It also had a small closet that barely fit our 2 coats.
The seats laid down for a bed that was a little larger then a twin, but we both were able to sleep on it (it was very cozy). There was also a top bunk with a ladder to climb up and straps to keep you in. We opted to share the bottom bunk, we like cozy. The room had a large picture window to view the passing sights and electric outlets to keep your electronics juiced up.
Each car has an attendant who will make up your bed if you ask and provide you with fresh towels and interesting train facts.
Sadly we went through the Cascade Mountains after dark and the promised coastal views were all south of our final stop. So needless to say, we missed some beautiful sites but the trip was still amazing.
We knew we must have been on some curvy tracks though. On the hard turns the hallways on the cars in front of us would disappear from site.
One of the train conductors AJ took some time to chat with us and suggested on our next trip we leave Los Angeles in the summer before the time changes. This would be the best chance at seeing the beautiful coastal views and mountain passes.
Don and I were both taking notes and planning our next trip.
That night we were rocked to sleep in our sleeper car with a view of the beautiful Oregon stars and a half harvest moon that was the perfect nightlight as we fell asleep dreaming of our next train adventure.

Posted in Travel



Our 50 State Challenge
Inspired by my brother Michaels book “Born Again America” Don and I decided we wanted to see all 50 of our countries beautiful states, with the challenge being we needed to spend one night in every state.

Wyoming, was my parents first home after getting married and where Dons mother and my oldest brother Jay were born, so it had a special significance to both of us.

I was amazed at the different terrains as we drove through the state, from endless fields to magnificent mountains (and we only made it through part of the state.) I was also surprised by the very windy and chilly weather.

In Cheyenne The Capitol building was closed for renovations but the fence and construction site did not hide the beauty of this historical building. Downtown was small, but had several nice restaurants and a cool brewery (see our favorite places Wyoming below.).

The most impressive part of our visit though was Devils Tower, a huge cement rock that rises out of the ground, there are pathways to walk around the area and a campground right at the base for those who want to stay.

This land mark was featured in Close Encounters, but we did not have and extraterrestrial sitings on this trip.   In 1906 it was also the first location to be designated as a National Park by Teddy Roosevelt.

One day in not enough time to explore this magnificent state, so there will defiantly be a repeat visit in our future.

Our Favorite Places in Wyoming

The Historic Plains Hotel

1600 Central Ave Cheyenne WY

Plains Hotel in downtown Cheyenne not fancy, the rooms definitely could use some serious updating. The king size bed was actually two twin beds put next together, so if you rolled into the middle of the bed you found yourself falling down the middle. The AC was a small window unit and there were stains on the carpet and the faucets in the shower were coming out of the wall. There is one small elevator that 2 people with luggage could barely squeeze into.

With those things said this is a historic hotel, the lobby is beautiful and if you want a true downtown Cheyenne experience this is the place to stay, as there are no other hotels in the downtown area.

From our room you got a distant view of the state Capitol, the front desk staff was nice, though not all together helpful nor knowledgeable of the area. There are several fun little restaurants and bars in walking distance of the hotel (check out Sandfords or Accompis).

They had a nice restaurant that served delicious and very filling breakfasts for a pretty good price.

We got a good nights sleep and the price was really good, so I would probably go back for the experience plus my father told me that is where my mom worked when they lived there so it was a sentimental stay.

Accomplice Beer Company
15 West 15th St Cheyenne WY

If you like beer you will love this place. You get a card that you can use to get several small samples or just a couple beers. Your charged by the ounce, so it’s a great way to sample several types of beer. Limited food menu, we had the sliders with chips and kale salad. All delicious. Inside and outside seating, it was a fun place.

115 E 17th St Cheyenne WY

Located in downtown Cheyenne a fun little place with eclectic decor that included Route 66 signs, license plates, sports memorabilia and old record albums on the walls.  The  large menu offered a variety of foods from burgers to steaks.

Boasting an impressive beer selection with everything from domestic to local crafts.  We chose the Snake River Zonker Stout, a delicious dark beer that was the perfect compliment to our lunch.

For an appetizer we tried the fried pickles that were served with ranch dressing and peanut butter, amazingly the peanut butter mixed with the fried pickles was a pretty good combination.

We shared a delicious patty melt for our main course, the burger was cooked to perfection and the sweet potato fries were the perfect side.  The kitchen even split it for us on 2 separate plates saving us from the awkwardness of who gets the most fries or larger cut.

The music was classic 60s  to 80s not so loud you could not carry on a conversation.   There is live music on Friday nights and we were treated to a sound check of Beatles and Yes songs performed by local artist Ken Wooster.   Imagine that, live music on a Friday afternoon for lunch.

Thomas our waiter was great and helped us to choose from the extensive menu.
What a great find on our road trip across the Great Plains.

The Capitol Building was under construction when we went to visit. Its a small building with a park in front. Very limited parking outside.

I would have loved to have see Wyoming in the days when my parents lived here. I recently found a letter she had written to her Aunt describing the long drives through endless flat roads and extreme wind, that part has not changed at all. The hotel she worked at still remains and of course the air base that my father was stationed at and my mother in law was born at was still there.

Don and I made our own memories in this very remote, beautiful state and enjoyed our far too short stay.

Posted in Travel

Nubble Lighthouse

I was 12 years old the first time I visited Nubble Light House. 12 is not an age where much interests you, but this beautiful lighthouse fascinated me. At the time it was still run manually and a family inhabited the pretty red and white house that stood grandly on the remote island. I would watch from the beach hoping to catch a glimpse of this mysterious family and wondered about their life. The light house stood alone on a small island with the only access being a small boat, I wondered how the children got across in the winter to go to school and what the mother did if she forgot to pick up milk at the store.

“I wonder what they do over there,” I asked out loud one day as we were staring at the Island waiting for signs of human life to emerge. “Probably nude sunbathing” one of my cousins replied jokingly. Occasionally someone would emerge from the house to tend to daily chores, crowds would wave and yell, it was if they were rock stars making a public appearance.


I came back to York Beach and Nubble light house a few years ago after a long absence. The house remained unchanged, still picturesque sitting on the hill with its bright beacon warning sailors of possible danger. But I was told families no longer live there, new technology allowed the light house to be run remotely now. No family I thought, the house must be so lonely. The absence of tenants has not kept people from visiting what is said to be the most painted lighthouse on earth, it still sits grandly high on the rocks leaving visitors to imagine what life must have been like having the opportunity to live there.

This remains a yearly stop for my family when we visit New England, and last year we found that the Lighthouse foundation now offers a drawing with the prize being an opportunity to have lunch with 5 friends on the Island. So each year I buy as many tickets as I can afford and wait for my phone to ring saying I am the lucky winner.

Until that call comes in I will continue to return each year and try to imagine what live would be like on that beautiful rock Island and Nubble Light.

Posted in Travel, Travel

San Francisco Cable Cars

Cable Cars
Every time I have visited San Francisco I watch the Trolleys pass me on the streets with passengers waving and hanging on as they go up and down the steep hills of the city. I always wanted to jump on one, but time never cooperated.
This year, riding one of those cars was my goal. I booked our stay at the Omni San Francisco, a beautiful hotel right on the route and purchased the cable car package through the hotel.
Soon after check in we were standing at the cable car stop waiting to board. I could almost hear Judy Garland singing as the car made its approach. When it stopped we climbed on, making our way to the middle of the crowded car, the focused conductor aligning us to make sure he could squeeze in as many people as possible. This first ride was not what I envisioned, I could barely see the city and it was so crowded. We chatted with other riders around us and the first thing I was told, is this is not a trolley, trolleys are what Judy Garland sang on in Meet Me in St.Louis, or the little train on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, these were cable cars, so named because of the steel cable under the streets that pull the cars, good thing I learned that before embarrassing myself by belting out “Clang Clang Clang went the trolley.”
After a few short stops, the conductor announced it was the end of the line, and at the end of the line everyone gets off. I guess I verbalized my disappointment a little too loudly because out of nowhere, appeared Lance, a grip man who seemed determined to make sure I got the cable car experience I had come to San Francisco for. Catch the Cable Car at the start of the line, you may have to wait a little longer but you will get one of those coveted outside spots, I did not realize those were premium spots, I thought cable cars were a primary form of transportation and the outside polls were for the poor unfortunates who were last on, I was banking on being one of those poor unfortunates. When I watched Streets of San Francisco or Ricearoni commercials the guys outside always had briefcases and wore business suits.

From Lance we learned that the front of the car is controlled by a grip-man, a person with superhuman strength and dexterity, who controls the car using a foot brake and a complicated series of handles and levers. We asked if he would take a picture of us on the car, and before we knew it he had us posing hanging out of the car, on the side of the car, he loved these Cable Cars and he wanted to be sure everyone who rode them loved them as well, after saying goodbye to our new friend we were on our way for a day of adventure. Soon after we were standing on the outside of the Car, clinging to the poll, along with a group of other riders, I was so glad I had chosen not to wear slip on shoes, I was certain that anything not attached to me would have wound up on the streets of San Francisco. Even though the maximum speed is only 9 miles per hour when they start heading downhill towards fisherman’s wharf I felt as if I was on the fastest roller coaster on earth. With the wind in my hair, and the city in view, we would get off at the end of each line, then go back to the end of the line watching the dance the cars do when they make their turn around. I was like a kid who had discovered a new ride. We got our money’s worth and then some with our 20.00 all day pass
Cable Cars are not an efficient way to travel in the city, lines to board can be very long, and they do not cover the entire city. The price is a bit steep, 7.00 each time you board (unless you purchase an all day passport as we did). I am certain they can be extremely unsafe, I was told that people do fall off them from time to time. But none of those things matter to me, when I stood on the steps of that cable car, clinging to the poll I felt as if I was flying through San Francisco. I will check that off my list of things I want to do, but I won’t be erasing it. I am sure I will be dragging Don back on those beautiful cable cars every time I am in San Francisco for years to come.

Posted in Travel

Hope Gallery Austin

Hope Gallery
If your in Austin and you love art check out the Hope Gallery. This is no ordinary gallery, you won’t find Picasso or Monet there but you will find some awesome modern art done by whomever brings chalk or a spray can and wants to express themselves.
Some of the art is cute and fun, others are masterpieces. It’s amazing to me that there are so many talented artist out there, I love that they have a way to express their creativity in such a public setting.
There is no fee to come here, it is open air and with all the cement it can get pretty hot in the summer.
Getting to some areas can be tricky as the ground is uneven and there are multiple levels, but there is plenty to see towards the bottom. Putting stairs in would be a great Eagle Scout project and would help make all the artwork more accessible.
I loved this fun, quirky art gallery. What I did not love was the amount of litter left by visitors and artists. The area was cluttered with empty spray cans, water bottles and other garbage. Clean up after yourselves people, no one would leave that kind of mess if they walked into the Louvre.
This would be a great afternoon outing in the fall or spring, and you can visit often as the landscape is constantly changing. Keep that weird creativity Austin, it’s places like this that keep you great.