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Coast Starlight – Scenic Train Travel from LA to Vancouver

Posted by on July 5, 2018 in Advice + Tips, California, Coast, Landscaapes, Los Angeles, Transportation | 12 comments

Coast Starlight – Scenic Train Travel from LA to Vancouver

Tired of the hassles of flying? Try traveling the old-fashioned way, via train. Recently, after leaving Mexico for California, Oregon, and Vancouver, I looked into taking a train up the western coast of the US. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight run was affordable, and from what I’d read, provided great views. Following is a glimpse of life on a train. There are pros and cons to this mode of travel, at least on this Amtrak experience, and I’ll share both sides. One nice thing about train travel is that getting on is so much quicker...

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Taking Care of Business – Travel & Toilets

Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Accommodations, Advice + Tips, Around the World, Travel Challenges | 6 comments

Taking Care of Business – Travel & Toilets

It’s not the glamour side of travel, but let’s face it, most people use toilets on a regular basis. You can learn a lot about a country from their toilet facilities, no matter what you call them. Knowing the terminology is important so you can ask for one when you need one – loo, thunder box, washroom, water closet or lavatory… …or  bathroom or restroom, as Americans often refer to them. People from other countries sometimes laugh at this, as usually at public venues, there’s no bathtub and we aren’t...

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A Seat with a View

Posted by on February 28, 2018 in Advice + Tips, Around the World, Ex-pat living, Hiking, Inspiration, Landscaapes, Local Color | 14 comments

A Seat with a View

Make your reservation for a seat with a view, or better yet, just stumble upon one. While long term travel isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, the world does offer up a spectacular array of beautiful views, and I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you from over a dozen countries around the world. You might not always be able to find or afford a room with a view, but you can usually find a seat with one, and more often than not, they’re free, like this rock with a view of the ocean in New Zealand… Seats with views...

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Meandering Around Michigan

Posted by on December 17, 2017 in Art, Entertainment, Grand Rapids, Michigan | 22 comments

Meandering Around Michigan

For the first time after 3 solid years of foreign and domestic travel, I returned to my home state of Michigan to visit family and friends in various towns, reflect on my roots, and see what’s new. It turns out there’s a lot! On the west side of the state, Grand Rapids has been named Beer City USA, and the foodie scene has exploded. In the fall Artprize takes over Grand Rapids, bringing thousands to peruse paintings, sculpture, photography and more. Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park has sprouted a new Japanese garden and more...

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More Oaxacan Wonders and Activities

Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Advice + Tips, Entertainment, Excursions, Food, Local Color, Mexico, Mexico, Museums, Oaxaca, World Heritage Sites | 8 comments

More Oaxacan Wonders and Activities

One final post on Oaxacan sights and fun things to do, both in Centro and beyond, before I leave after almost 6 months in this colorful Mexican city. The historic center is great, but make sure you get out to the surrounding areas as well. For example, take a day trip out to the amazing pre-Columbian archaeological site of Monte Alban… Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll see this partially excavated civic-ceremonial center, including the main plaza, terraces, and clusters of mounded architecture, as well as many carved...

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The Art of Travel Photography

Posted by on September 2, 2017 in Advice + Tips, Around the World, Art, Inspiration, Landscaapes, Local Color, Photography | 7 comments

The Art of Travel Photography

Do you want to see the famous sights of the world and bring back great photos to remember them by? Or maybe take better pictures when you head out camping or to the beach? Are flowers and food shots your thing when you travel? Puppies and kittens and critters you meet? Selfies or portraits of your new best friend? How about a few more interesting pics to share on social media like Facebook and Instagram? This isn’t a comprehensive guide to photography by any means, but rather a few simple tips to help turn your photos into small works...

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Food of the Gods, a Chocolate Tour

Posted by on July 21, 2017 in A Day in My Life, Advice + Tips, Chocolate, Excursions, Food, Markets, Mexico, Mexico, Oaxaca | 9 comments

Food of the Gods, a Chocolate Tour

Love chocolate?! Come to Oaxaca, where chocolate is part of the culture, and comes in many forms and flavors. Recently I had the pleasure of going on a chocolate tour with Chris, of Oaxaca Profundo Tours, where he shared not only tons of tastes, but also the rich history surrounding this flavorful food. While we we tend to just think of chocolate as that sweet confection we eat as a treat, there is so much more to this “food of the gods.” For instance, did you know that chocolate was once used as currency? Instead of gold, cacao...

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The Art of Making Rugs in Teotitlan del Valle

Posted by on July 6, 2017 in A Day in My Life, Advice + Tips, Art, Entertainment, Ex-pat living, Excursions, Food, Local Color, Markets, Mexico, Oaxaca, Teotitlan | 4 comments

The Art of Making Rugs in Teotitlan del Valle

Teotitlan del Valle is a colorful village of rug-makers just outside of Oaxaca in southern Mexico where Zapotecs have produced rugs for many generations. How much time does it take to hand-make a rug? Answer – a lot! After sheep are sheared, wool is washed, carded, and spun into yarn, then the yarn must be dyed. Some weavers still use all natural materials for color, such as indigo for blue, nut shells for brown, marigolds for yellow, and cochineal, a small insect that feeds on the prickly pear cactus, for brilliant magenta. Others have...

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Wandering Oaxaca, Mexico

Posted by on June 8, 2017 in A Day in My Life, Advice + Tips, Art, Entertainment, Ex-pat living, Food, Local Color, Markets, Mexico, Museums, Oaxaca | 4 comments

Wandering Oaxaca, Mexico

What is it about Oaxaca that entices visitors to come and to linger? Let’s wander around and see… The first thing that I noticed, being a painter and photographer, is that Oaxaca is a city of colors – color is everywhere! From the buildings on the bustling streets… …to the walls of graffiti – whimsical, playful, pretty, and political. Turn a corner, and what do you see? Balloon sellers in the Zocalo, along with a gazebo, market, and shoe shine stalls, and sometimes even a free symphony concert! Nearby,...

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Anatomy of an Assault

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in A Day in My Life, Advice + Tips, Ex-pat living, Mexico, Oaxaca, Safety, Travel Challenges | 16 comments

Anatomy of an Assault

Most of my blog posts are full of pretty pictures, and the next one after this will be too. But the subject of this one, the physical parts anyway, are gone, except for now-fading abrasions and on-going pain of bruised ribs. Here’s the anatomy of my assault… On April 27, in San Sebastian Etla, a small village a short way outside of the city of Oaxaca in Mexico, I was assaulted in broad daylight, knocked down in the street, my purse ripped off of my arm. I was headed from my Airbnb on the 10 minute walk to the main road to catch a...

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