Thursday, August 1, 2019

Currently... (Vol. 42)

Disbelieving...  that today is August 1 and I still have almost a month until the new school year begins.  

Taking...  full advantage of having additional time off.  Due to delays with the construction of a new school, the district in which I work had to postpone the first day of school until the day after Labor Day!  Yeah...  To give you some perspective, last year the first day of school was August 1.  I'd honestly rather work in August and have more time off throughout the year, but...  it is what it is.  I intend to make the most of this unusually long summer.

Looking...  forward to visiting Acadia National Park later this month.  I've never been before, but have heard it's beautiful.

Attempting...  "one bag travel" during my trip to Maine.  I can be a tad of an over-packer, so this will be a serious challenge for me.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Struggling...  to get in enough weekly miles so I can finish the 175 Mile Summer Challenge by Labor Day.  As of today, I've completed 105 miles, but still have 70 to go and 32 days to do them in.

Unprepared...  for the mud obstacle course my friend and I are doing on Labor Day weekend. I truly had plans to increase my upper body strength, but...  well, it just didn't happen.  But, I'm going on and will do the best I can.  There may be several obstacles I'll just have to skip.

Watching...  too much TV as of late.  I'm not kidding when I say that I don't watch very much TV, because normally I don't.  However, since July 21st, I've binge watched all three seasons of Stranger Things (25 episodes), World War II in HD Colour (a 13 episode documentary that I found completely fascinating given that it was in color), three other WWII documentaries (The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War, and Hiroshima), and three movies that were set in WWII (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Imitation Game, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society).

Perplexed...  as to why I'm soaking up all this WWII information like a sponge.  I mean, I've always found the time period and events of WWII interesting, but my fascination in the past few days is...  weird.

Enjoying...  all the memories of the 1980s that have resurfaced in my mind since watching Stranger Things: Trapper Keepers, New Coke, mullets, arcades, and the music...  man.  It's been a fun trip down memory lane.

Listening...  to the audiobook Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Slightly amused and slightly annoyed...  by this football "manifesto" of sorts that an acquaintance of mine posted on FB.  I assume the author was trying to be funny, but considering the fact that this person is a complete narcissist, and I truly mean that, I believe it was posted with complete honesty.  Here are a few points from this manifesto and my internal responses:
  • "I will NOT attend ANYTHING Thursday through Monday nights or past noon on Saturday & Sunday unless you have 🏈 on a television.  ***Please note - Games featuring Penn State and the Redskins take priority over all other games."  - Duly noted.  Not that I've ever invited you to anything before, but I definitely won't start now.
  • "Weddings & all other events are for bye weeks or planned around GAME TIME!!! It's not my fault you are starting your married life & such proving to everyone you are a horrible planner. I am not saying I won't be there but if I am it will be when the game is over!"  - Again, duly noted.  Sorry that you would place more value on a sports team than on a relationship you have with someone who is nice enough and thinks enough of you to invite you to a wedding or other big event.  I'm not planning any big events for the fall, but if my plans change, I'll just save us both some time and won't invite you, how's that?
  • "In the event that we are watching a game together, and you are not a Skins or Penn State fan, you will NOT cheer against them. But I will cheer against your team-especially the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Pitt, Michigan & Ohio State." - Oh. Hell. No.  In the highly unlikely event that I find myself watching a game in the same room as you, you need to know this - you're not the boss of me.  I'll do whatever I damn well feel like, which includes cheering for or against whomever I please, thank you very much.  And you can rest assured that during this upcoming football season, my favorite collegiate team, other than my alma mater of course, will be whomever is playing against Penn State and as for NFL, my favorite team will be whomever is playing against Washington.

Questioning...  why I'm connected with this person in the first place.  LOL!

Admitting...  that I had mixed results with my Plastic Free July attempt.  I did really well in some areas and not so well in others (like the single-use containers that produce comes in at the supermarket as well as the containers of activator and dye in my hair coloring kit).  It was a hard experience, but very eye opening.

Laughing...  at this:

Admitting...  that I recognize all the faces above (I can even name the shows they were on, although I can't remember all their names), that I have reading glasses, and that I have a bum shoulder and elbow that act up with increasing regularity.  All of the jeans in my closet fit, though.  LOL!

Agreeing...  with this:

July in a Snapshot:

1) HUGE piece of cake for anniversary dessert, celebrating my grandmother's 86th birthday,
one of my mom's flowers.
2) Hiking with my aunt in WV, dog sitting, lost dinosaur in the park
3) Finisher's medal for a virtual 10K I did this month, Louisville's heat wave,
Trapper Keeper (scene from Stranger Things)

What have you been up to lately?

Linking up with:

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Inspirational and Thought Provoking Quotes From Books

This is actually a prompt from earlier this year, which I missed from some reason or another - whomp, whomp...  But, given that today's prompt is a freebie, I've been given a second chance.  Yay!  Without further ado, here are some of the most inspirational and thought provoking quotes from books that I've come across in recent years:   


"Everyone is a hundred different things, but in other people's eyes we usually get the chance to be only one of them." 
- from Us Against You by Frederik Backman

"Culture isn't just what we encourage but what we allow to happen." 
- from Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

"Everything's a risk.  Not doing anything is a risk.  It's up to you." 
- from Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

"Maybe you can afford to wait.  Maybe for you there's a tomorrow.  Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows or three thousand or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around in it, let it slide like coins through your fingers.  So much time you can waste it.  But for some of us, there's only today.  And the truth is, you never really know." 
- from Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

"One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it's happened."  
- from Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

"When you're given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn't give things, you take things." 
- from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"Make sure, as often as possible, you are doing something you’d be happy to die doing."
- from The Humans by Matt Haig

"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it." 
- from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

"Passion's fire. And fire is great, man. But we're made of water. Water is how we keep living. Water is what we need to survive.  My family was my water.  I picked water.  I'll pick water every time." 
- from Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"There’s something about swimsuits that make you think you’ve got to earn the right to wear them. And that’s wrong. Really, the criteria is simple. Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it." 
- from Dumplin' by Julie Murphy 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Currently... (Vol. 41)

Enjoying...  waking up without an alarm.

Planning...  a 4-5 day trip in August.  Given that the start of the 2019-20 school year has been pushed back due to numerous weather related delays (rain), I figure I should make the most of the additional time off, especially since I will not get a Fall Break this year.

Singing...  this line from the Creedence Clearwater Revival song:

Tired...  of the persistent rain that has plagued the Ohio Valley for much of the past year.  A local news station posted these on FB within the last week:

*As of 6/26.  It is now 50 because we had a downpour on Sunday 6/30.

Listening...  to the audiobook Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen.

Reading...  blogs and online articles about Acadia National Park, backpacks, and one-bag travel.

Watching...  Yellowstone on the Paramount network.

Choosing...  a new paint color for my hallway.

Trying...  to be very conscientious of my usage of single-use plastics this month in honor of Plastic Free July.  I tell ya what, folks, it's a lot harder than it sounds because single-use plastics are all around us and are such a big part of our ordinary daily lives that we often don't give them a second thought.  As I write this, I'm staring at the plastic container my strawberries came in.  I do really well at refusing straws and taking my own re-usable bags to the grocery, but when it comes to containers like this, I'm not sure what to do.  

Celebrating...  my 16th wedding anniversary.

Eager...  to go to West Virginia for a few days to see my family.

Loving...  this:

Laughing and agreeing...  with this:

Cringing...  at the incorrect grammar usage in the above meme...  The Walmart's.  Lord, have mercy!

Recommending...  this:

June in a Snapshot:

1) Puple in the park, Hamilton!, bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae in Jamaica
2) Stingray City (Cayman Islands), starfish beach, exploring Chacchoben
Mayan ruins with R and my folks
3) Love the blue water of the Caribbean, summer's first chicory, dog-sitting

What have you been up to lately?

Linking up with:

Friday, June 28, 2019

My Happy List - What I Enjoyed in June (Vol. 9)

In keeping with my plan to periodically "check-in" and share some of the things that have brought me enjoyment, (ENJOY is my word of the year, after all), please allow me to share a sampling of the things that I enjoyed in June.

I enjoyed...

June 1 - a much needed, 90-minute deep tissue massage.

3 & 4 - the absolutely lovely weather - high 60s/low 70s, sunny, and low humidity - that I was able to take advantage of for two morning walks.

9 - watching the musical Hamilton at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

12 - drifting along the Martha Brae River in Jamaica on a bamboo raft with R and my folks.

13 - getting to play with a stingray and some starfish off the coast of Grand Cayman.

14 - the talent show as performed by crew members of the MSC Armonia.

16 - hanging out with my parents during our cruise's final day at sea, not doing anything in particular, but just enjoying each other's company.

19 - sighting summer's first chicory in my favorite park.

25 - running into my former principal and friend while walking at the park.

26 - a long, overdue phone conversation with my friend, S.

Happy Friday and ...

Linking up with:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Bamboo Rafting on the Martha Brae

Back in April, I spent a week at a resort in Runaway Bay along Jamaica's north coast with my best friend.  The one time we ventured off the resort, we went to Ocho Rios where we snorkeled and climbed Dunn's River Falls.  We, like so many visitors to the island, didn't venture beyond the coast.  Earlier this month, I found myself back in Jamaica, this time on a cruise ship stop. Not wanting to duplicate what I had done in April, my husband, my parents, and I decided to explore an area of Jamaica beyond its beaches.  Bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae provided the perfect opportunity for just that.

The Martha Brae is a river in northwestern Jamaica.  Located in Trelawny Parish near the town of Falmouth, the river is approximately 20 miles east of the more well known Montego Bay and 40 miles west of popular cruise ship port of Ocho Rios.

During Jamaica's 18th and 19th century plantation era, the river was used for transporting sugar and other crops from the plantations upstream to the port town of Falmouth.  From there, the crops were loaded onto ships sailing to Europe.  The river no longer serves as a means of transporting crops, but due to its constant flow, it provides water to many local towns and towns in the western part of the island.  Even when much of the island is experiencing  drought, apparently the Martha Brae continues to flow.  The locals say that it never runs dry.

There are many variations as to how the river got its name.  Our tour guide requested that each of us ask our raft captains how the river was named and during our ride back to Ocho Rios, each couple reported what they had been told.  Interestingly, none of the explanations were the same. Some were told that Martha Brae was the first and last name of a woman; the raft guide R and I had said that the river was named after a couple - Martha was the wife and Brae was her husband.  However, despite all the inconsistencies, there was one constant - that Martha was probably a witch who practiced voodoo.  The gist of the legend goes something like this: Spanish settlers were looking for gold on the island and enlisted the help of Martha.  She led them to the gold which was located in a cave hidden by the river.  Before the Spaniards could collect the gold, Martha used her powers to reverse the flow of the river, trapping the settlers in the process.  Some say that she also died as a result.

Raft trips begin at a starting point called Rafter's Village where there are restrooms, an outdoor bar, an herb garden, and a shop or two selling souvenirs.  The launch site is a short walk away from the village.  

The boarding/launch site.

Each 30-foot bamboo raft carries two passengers and a raft captain.  According to our raft captain, the rafts can weigh upwards of 700 lbs. and typically last 4-5 years.  Much to my surprise and delight, the raft R and I shared felt very stable as we boarded and disembarked the craft and throughout the one-hour float.  It definitely didn't feel flimsy!  Using a bamboo pole, our captain steered and sometimes propelled the raft in the gentle current to Martha's Rest, the ending point 3-miles down the river.  

Rafting on the Martha Brae has been a popular tourist activity for 40 years.  It has been said that such notable celebrities such as Chuck Norris, Queen Elizabeth II, Spike Lee, Kenny Rogers, Patrick Ewing, Johnny Cash, and Usain Bolt have taken raft trips down the green tinted river.

My parents on their raft.

A Martha Brae traffic jam.

My excursion down the Martha Brae was very relaxing, tranquil, and quite a dramatic departure from the snorkeling and Dunn's River Falls excursion I had taken in April.  R, my parents, and I all enjoyed the peaceful float down the river under the lush, green canopy of trees and I have no reservations recommending this excursion.  It provided me with an opportunity to see a part of Jamaica that I hadn't seen before and to interact with some interesting locals.

Out of convenience, I booked our excursion through our cruise line, MSC.  I'm assuming that most, if not all, cruise lines that port in Jamaica probably offer Martha Brae rafting excursions but I can't say that with 100% certainty.  The tour is also available through private shore excursion operators.  For more information on this uniquely Jamaican experience, click here.

Linking up with Random-osity

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Hiking Among the Hoodoos - A Photo Essay

During my American Southwest road trip last summer, I spent one morning hiking among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park. Hoodoos are columns of weathered rock and they are in abundance in this remote national park located in the southwest Utah about 4 hours from Las Vegas, NV.

My aunt, uncle, uncle's brother, and I were up early (this was a recurring theme during the entire trip) and in the park even before the rangers arrived to man the entrance gates. Starting at Sunset Point, we descended into the hoodoos via the Navajo Loop Trail for a closer view of the mysterious rock formations.

The trail led us down a series of switchbacks and through a section known as Wall Street, a narrow canyon with high rock walls.

After reaching the canyon floor, we opted to continue along the Queen's Garden Trail instead of finishing the Navajo Loop (which leads back to the canyon rim). This trail is known as the Queen's Garden & Navajo Combination and most hikers (from what I've gathered) do it in that order whereas we did it in reverse.

Some of the park's most spectacular formations can be found in Queen's Gardens, including the formation for which the garden is named - Queen Victoria.

After a final ascent, we arrived back on the canyon rim at Sunrise Point (1/2 mile from Sunset Point, where our hike originated). The Navajo Loop/Queen's Garden Trail is a heavily trafficked, well marked 2.8 mile trail (Sunset Point to Queen's Garden to Sunrise Point back to Sunset Point), that has an elevation change of 623 feet. We didn't encounter many other hikers on the trail until our final ascent to Sunrise Point, where we met a steady, increasing stream of hikers descending into the canyon.

One bit of advice - remember, if you descend into the canyon, at the end you must ascend to get out.  This is very important to keep in mind, especially when hiking during the summer months.

Linking up with Random-osity

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