It’s time to get out the fuzzy sweaters, hot apple cider and think about carving pumpkins. That’s right, autumn has arrived and it’s here to stay, well until winter comes blowing in but who wants to think about snow at least not yet. As I look my window I can see the hint of leaves changing to warm fall colors, reds, oranges and yellows. The leaves never stay long enough for me to enjoy them and yet I’m grateful I live in the New England states where it gives me the best seat in the house.
The options for a road trip are unlimited once you reach Connecticut but I say go a little further and cross the Massachusetts line. Here you can travel to Walden Park (yes, the famous one) and get out the camera. Take a drive across Mohawk Trail which leads into Connecticut and New York. Keep traveling and you can find yourself in the Catskills. You will need a map or a GPS. If New York is not where you want to end up you can always keep traveling and go into New Hampshire or Vermont.
In Vermont you’ll be able to find biking or walking tours as you take in the scenery or you can go on a tour of covered bridges. I can’t think of a better time than during the fall months when the beauty will be most spectacular to see both. Keep going north and you’ll end up in Maine. The Arcadia state park is a welcoming sight for leaf peepers. No matter what state you’re in the closer you get to the ocean the longer and later the trees turn allowing you to enjoy their beauty for a few weeks longer than anywhere else.
In fact there really aren’t too many places you can’t go in the New England states to enjoy the fall foliage. While driving along those back roads with your binoculars and cameras, stop by a farm stand or farm and pick your own apples or taste a homemade apple donut. Just like the leaves you won’t want to miss this special memory that only happens once a year.
My last trip to the beach for the season has gone and past and yet I still have the itch to get back into the water, any water to keep hold of summer. I’ll even settle for a pool or to be extreme one of the world’s largest waterfalls. Okay so I can’t go swimming in the waterfall but I can go bungee jumping.
Nestled in the mountains of Africa is Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River; a waterfall that reaches into the sky and is ready for anyone who dares plunge off of it. While it isn’t the highest waterfall or the widest it is the largest in the world. Its width is over 5,000 ft. and its height is over 300 ft. Imagine a place like Niagara Falls and double its size.
The idea of bungee jumping off Victoria Falls is exciting and frightening all at the same time. Too much of a free fall, instead of free flying through the air you might opt to take a zip line across the falls instead. This can be just as exhilarating. Along the edge of the falls is the Devil’s Pool. You can relax in the pool and look over the lip to see the water splashing below. Is it dangerous? A little. However, there is a rock formation to keep you from going over the edge. Maybe bungee jumping isn’t so bad after all. Not feeling the need to be one with the air, there are always elephant safaris, fly fishing, white water rafting and my personal favorite walking with lions. Not just any lions where you’re in a vehicle somewhat safe and watching with binoculars. These lions happen to be unleashed without collars walking right beside you. The lions are being released back into the jungle and you’re able to be part of this wonderful experience. The activities are limitless at the falls, there is even mountain biking through the cliffs and microlight flights. No matter what your fear level is, Victoria Falls will test it.
Depending on what season you travel here will depend on what you can and cannot do. If you go during the early months of the year you will see the falls in full glory. Only to be experienced by aerial view if you want to be able to take in the magnitude of its beauty. As the months proceed the falls will become less and less. By November the falls will be all but gone and you will be able to see the cliffs without the falls spilling over them as well as take a raft to the bottom of the falls. If you’re like me and already miss the summer feel of being free maybe I’ll see you sailing through the sky with only a cord flying behind you.
Are you like me and can already smell fall in the air even though it’s only August. It’s possible it might be my imagination yet I still can’t shake the feeling of holidays approaching and winter is on its way. As the lazy days of summer pass by I’m ready for the colder months to come upon me.
Whether you want to travel to the Himalayan Mountainsduring the summer or winter there is one hotel that stands outamong the rest, Wildflower Hall. A luxury resort nestled in the mountains with exquisite views. It is surrounded by magnificentpine and cedar trees.
The rooms are state of the art with walk-in closets, butler service, fireplaces, personal bars and teak floors. The bathrooms are laced with marble and each with a bathtub as well as a shower for your convenience.
After you’ve settled into your room enjoy all the resort has to offer. A deluxe spa that is chocked full of a wide assortment of massages including a couple’s massage; choose from anassortment of baths from herbal to milk and rose to accompany your massage. Afterwards, stretch with a session of yoga. Venture over to the indoor heated pool that overlooks the mountains with bigger than life chandeliers and mosaic tiled floor. Or you can go outside to the heated infinity whirlpoolunder the snowflakes where you will feel one with nature.
No matter what season you choose the grounds are yours for the taking. Go hiking through the forest and take a picnic or grab a mountain bike and go riding. In the winter go skiing down the mountains. There is the option of white water rafting or ice skating depending on the weather. Of course you don’t have do to any of these things. You can sit back; relax with a bottle of wine in your room or sit on the terrace to bask in a delicious meal overlooking a view that will take your breath away.
The summer to me has so much to offer but the one thing that I can’t wait for are all the blockbuster movies that come to the big screen. You will always find me once a week at the theater watching the latest release with popcorn in hand. With that being said I find myself at home looking for a movie with intense meaning that I’ll think about long after I’ve watched it. At home isn’t the only place to find these movies. If you happen to have the time to escape for a week or so in January the place to be is the Sundance Festival.
Located in Sundance, Utah, the Sundance Festival hosts independent film artists who gather here to share their artistry. The festival was created by the multi-talented Robert Redford who wanted to give those who wouldn’t normally be able to show their creations a chance to share their vision with the world. Sundance is a nonprofit organization that helps those filmmakers discover their passion and succeed. It funds their dreams, making them a reality.
Every year a festival is held to honor their talent and to display what they have created. Everyone who’s anyone will be here in one of the many movie houses. No matter what type of movie piques your interest it will be shown; whether it be suspense, documentary, drama or a short film. Not only will you be able to watch what might win the next Oscar you will also be able to meet some of the biggest names in Hollywood and the artists who created the films you have just watched.
The festival isn’t just for those who love to watch films it’s also for those who love to make films. Maybe you’re one of those talented people who are just waiting to be discovered. You can go to their website and read the details on how to submit your film.
The festival is a movie lover’s paradise with discussion panels on how the industry works and how it’s changing. Listen to one of the many live performances and the round table discussions of how music plays such an important role in movie making. Every day will host a new performer. Parties are being held every night to honor those showing their work.
Sundance has over the years, evolved into more than just Sundance, Utah. It now has a festival in London, England. Depending on which side of the pond you’re one, you can see film artists doing what they do best: making magic on the big screen.
Oh, how I love wine. I don’t care if it’s white, red or blush. Add in just the right cheese plate and I’m in heaven. If I ever win the lottery I want to move to California (or Italy) and buy a winery. But for now I will have to settle for a weekend away at a bed and breakfast and making my way through Napa Valley; at a slow pace of course.
Napa Valley, the home of some of the most delicious wines and is right next to Sonoma County; another area rich in wine. Though Napa Valley is known for its wine, the scenery as you’re traveling through to the next tour is quite breathtaking. As well as the restaurants are top-notch. You will find restaurants that have wine samplings with each course of your meal. The places to stay are luxurious and offer a plentitude of amenities. Spas, bed and breakfasts and hotels are plentiful and beautiful. It really is up to you how you to want to spend your weekend.
Once you’ve decided the best place to stay that fits your needs, you need to think about what it is you want to accomplish while here. If this is a spur of the moment drive through the Valley, then by all means make your way into blissfulness on the seat of your pants. But if you want something a little more structured there are winery tours you may have to book prior to showing up at their doorstop. There are several hundred wineries throughout the valley and not all of them will allow a tour. Some will be by appointment only. Make sure you do your homework before you decide on the places to visit. Each tour is different. They range from tasting the wine, to actually seeing how it’s made. It really depends how much you want to know about the art of wine making. While on your tour you may find pairings of cooking classes and wine and cheese pairings.
After learning everything there is to know about wine and trying many varieties you can purchase the wines you’ve just tasted. Quite a few places will even offer a discount so you can stock up your cellar until you plan another trip to Napa or you may opt to explore someplace new and discover next favorite bottle to share with friends.
Since I was a child I would dance in my room. I grew up wanting to be a singer. Unfortunately I can’t sing no matter how many voice lessons I take but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to music and becoming consumed by it. Whenever I get the chance I’ll go to a concert and see one of my favorite performers or if I can’t stay awake at night I’ll watch a concert on HBO. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched clips of Woodstock and witnessed some of the greatest performances music will ever know. There will never be another Woodstock but don’t tell the people of Somerset, England this news because they just might disagree with you.
Every year the Glastonbury Festival is held in Somerset, England. This isn’t just any festival. There are more than 150,000 fans that show up in a town made up of 9,000 people. This is their Woodstock. Tents will be lined up one after another where folks will stay until the event is over. Some of the biggest names have performed here including Paul McCartney and Amy Winehouse. There isn’t just one stage, there are many acts playing at the same time at different locations throughout the festival. Each location has its own unique flavor they bring to the festival. You may enjoy wandering over to the stage with poets or to the circus area. You may want to watch juggling and acrobatics. Like a little sparkle to your performance, there are dancers that mix fireworks and fire into their routines. Of course while this is going on there are those stages with pure rock and roll if you want to skip the performances and get lost in the sounds of music.
The festival lasts for five days usually during the last week of June. The tickets become available in October. Once you’re at the festival you’ll have a map of all the different concerts going on. There will be a place to purchase mugs and clothing. You don’t have to bring your own food as with every festival this one will have plenty of vendors. The only thing you may want to bring is a camera and a sleeping bag and maybe a few friends to share the experience with.
I love nature. I enjoy going on hikes or renting a canoe on a lazy weekend day and rowing into the sunset. I will even take a few hours out of my day and watch a movie about nature. Not nearly as exciting I know but inspiration comes in all ways. So, when I saw the movie “The Big Year” I was taken aback with my own desire to see if I could do the same. How many birds could I find in one year? And would I even know what I what type of bird I was looking at? Of course I don’t have the time to go searching for every bird I can spot, yet the idea intrigued me.
Through all my searching on the subject I came across a place that would appease even the most avid bird-watcher and of course yours truly. The place is called Lake Okeechobee. The lake resides in the south of Florida and is home to marine and inland birds. Given enough time there is a great possibility you could see as many as three hundred different species of birds. You’d have to camp here day and night and be ready with binoculars at all times but it is possible. The Bald Eagle has even been spotted here.
The lake has become so well-known among bird watchers there is now the Big Birding Festival held in March. You will be informed of the best places to see certain types of birds. And there are all kinds from woodpeckers, hawks, wood storks and ospreys. These are just a few of many different birds you’ll come across.
If searching for the ever elusive bird you’ve been trying to spy for years becomes frustrating you can take some time and go fishing or if you brought a boat take it out onto the water. A wonderful resort is here to take full advantage of. You can pull your RV onto one of their many lots or stay in a cabin. You can fish right outside your door as everything is waterfront lots. In the evening make a fire by the campsite and roast smores. By early light you’ll be ready to pull out your camera with the extra wide lens and go off in search of the next bird that has eluded you until today.
I have a few obsessions in life, most involve making sure I pick up the latest book by my favorite author or setting the DVR to record the latest zombie show but an obsession closer to my heart is the Great Barrier Reef. I’m the person who watches every episode containing anything and everything to do with this now fading into existence nature’s gift of art. There are unlimited sites to see in the world, many being man-made. As I’ve said before I’d love to see the Seven Wonders of the World. Yet, there is something intriguing and simply magnificent about the Reef. It is located in the Coral Sea next to Queensland, Australia. While it’s not part of the official Wonders of the World, it is part of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It has close to 3,000 individual reefs and over 800 islands.
The Great Barrier Reef is made completely from nature. These tiny little organisms called coral polyps are what builds and makes up the Reef. That is only the beginning of the life that lives here. Whales, dolphins and many kinds of tortoises have made this their home along with over 1,500 different kinds of fish. Salt-water crocodiles and seahorses have also been spotted. Not only are there these species of life as well as sharks, mussels and just about anything else you can imagine, there are also birds. Many different types live on the islands surrounding the Reef. Unfortunately the crown-of-thorns starfish has established this as its home as well. The source of its food is the coral polyps and without the polyps there is no longer a Reef.
This is not the only threat to the Reef. Between the weather climate changes, boating accidents and oil spills there is a great possibility the Reef may not be with us in later years. Of course there have been and are attempts to save this extraordinary place. One of the ways is through tourism. Another reason to travel? Absolutely. You can visit the Reef by boat or helicopter. If you want you can scuba dive into the sea to be as close as possible to sea life or snorkel on the top and peer down below; whatever you desire some of the proceeds go to saving the Reef. While I’m not here to preach about saving the world, it is nice to know that when on vacation the money you spend to see the Reef is going to its future and may even save this beautiful site. There are now even resorts that support the livelihood of the Reef.
If you don’t want to stay at a resort or a hotel, you can take a cruise up to seven days and visit different islands while snorkeling or swimming in the waters. Really, the choice is yours how long you decide to spend in this colorful world under the sea. And when you’ve had enough for the moment, Australia is right there, waiting to be explored.
The summer while it goes by fast is a full three months and I have a checklist of places I want to travel to before it comes to an end. As I contemplate what to do and where to travel I can’t help but think of the Seven Wonders of the World and the fact I haven’t even seen one. Being a travel buff I want to see them all. The only decision I have is…which one to visit first. While they’re all appealing in their own way, Egypt and its pyramids rounds first choice.
There are many pyramids in Egypt, over a hundred but none are as impressive as the Giza pyramids. The tours are inexpensive and well worth every penny. You’ll be able to go inside the pyramids and see how they were constructed. The insides are humid and can be a bit daunting for someone with claustrophobia. Still, the prospect of being so close to another lifetime of culture and ancient times should not be missed. After you’ve explored the pyramids, you will travel to the Valley Temple where in ancient times they performed mummifications and see the Great Sphinx; otherwise known as the guardian of the pyramids. The Sphinx is the body of a lion and the head of a king.
Near the pyramids are places to take camels rides. Instead of traveling by air conditioned vehicles you can ride on the back of a camel instead to see the sites. The camels will travel at dusk or dawn as it gets quite hot in the desert land. At night the pyramids comes alive with an educational sound and light show. This will be a separate tour.
While the Giza Pyramids are one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it is not the only thing to see while in Cairo. Depending on how many days you’re staying in the area you can take a cruise down the Nile. Visit Wadi Hitan protected area or the Valley of the Whales where the bones of whales can be found. Continue traveling to see the only waterfalls in Egypt. Go to Wadi El Natroun the Christian birthplace of monasticism and visit the four remaining monasteries. The list is endless to do as Cairo is filled with history. If you have time to stay and explore, Cairo will not disappoint.
I don’t know about you but it’s been a long winter and spring. And while I’m ready to hit the beach I’m in need of some spiritual R&R before I dive into my summer romance novel while catching some rays. I could go to my local yoga studio or hop on a plane and head to India.
The Shreyas Retreat is a peaceful sanctuary where you’ll do yoga in the most exquisite of places. This place is not meant for someone who just wants to wake up and do exercise. The staff is all about helping you journey in to self-discovery. It will be a week-long spiritual experience as you push your body and your mind. The rooms where you’ll be meditating or having a yoga session will be free flowing with no walls. Surrounding you will be trees and plant life that breathes life into the air around you. You will either be completely outside standing on grass as you stretch your mind and body or you may be in one of the small palace rooms with pillars. There will be mediation sessions to calm your inner spirit as well as chanting sessions.
The food will be organic for detoxing all that wonderful food you ate throughout the winter months. The food will be vegetarian. There will be no alcohol or smoking allowed. The chefs say a small prayer over the food before they serve it. Everything about this retreat is about spiritual calmness and self-discovery.
When you’re not in a session there are lush gardens to enjoy nature. Throughout the twenty-five acre retreat will be areas of small pools where you can rest, listen to the water and relax your mind. Small pathways are there for walking when you so desire. Each cabin where you’ll reside is simple yet elegant. The walls are soft white and roomy. Some will be next to the pool or freestanding depending on how much privacy you’re looking for.
Before you pull out that bikini or swimsuit take a moment to relax within yourself and wake up in India if only for a week. I know this is what I’m in serious need of. A place where the only thinking I’m doing is on me without a worry. The rest of the summer will still be waiting for me.
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