Category Archives: Wanderings

Retirement Travel Togetherness – 13 Compromises to Consider!

Hubs and I are getting ready to do some more Voyaging!  Next week, we’ll head to Phoenix, Arizona, escaping what is predicted to be the next wave of snowy weather here in Idaho.

In our years on the Voyage, we’ve learned some things about traveling together.  It hasn’t always come without some tensions and bumps in the road.  But as I’m sure many other retirees can attest, there are compromises which must be made:

Relaxation vs. Adventure – I’m more of an adrenaline junkie.  He’s more of a sip wine and read kind of guy.

Planned out or “Fly by the Seat of Our Pants” – Our compromise is usually a little of each.  I like to do some initial research.  We schedule things only as the events require.  (We’ve been saddened when attractions were closed on the day we wanted to visit.)

On water vs. On land – Some people love cruising.  Others can’t stand the idea of being stuck in the middle of the ocean.  Some crave the beach, others, the mountains.

Fly, drive or travel by other means – My brother-in-law will die before he will board an airplane.  Good to know.

Lots of driving or Little-to-no driving – Depending on the location, sometimes we take our own car, sometimes we rent, sometimes we hire car services, and sometimes it’s Uber or Lyft.  And did I mention that a smaller type RV is in our future?

The question of music – Yes, No and What Type? – In the car, sometimes our music tastes differ.  He likes classical, I prefer contemporary. Our best compromise is mid-seventies rock, turned up loud, with both of us singing at the top of our lungs!  Reliving our college romance!

Where to stay, and how much work that will involve – I’ve heard folks say, “If I have to cook and make my own bed, it’s not a vacation.  Sometimes we choose hotels, sometimes Airbnb , or rental condos, sometimes high-end resorts.

“Sleep in” or “Up and at ’em” – There is nothing more annoying than having someone try to wake you up when you’re on vacation.  Or conversely, there is nothing worse than tapping your toe waiting for someone to get up and ready.

Temperature and weather considerations – It’s amazing how many people responded to my McCall post with comments about how we could just keep our Idaho snow.  But some of us know that the correct clothing and preparedness makes this a winter playground.  Many would disagree.

Amount of down time – This is an important one.  Some people like to go, go, go, while others need or want more frequent breaks, and packing the day full of activities is not so fun.

Airports – When is the “right” time to arrive? – Surprisingly, this can be a point of contention.  While hubs wants to leave absolutely nothing to chance, I’m a bit more of a “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” kind of girl.  Depending on where we’re going and the travel conditions, we negotiate our departure times.

Shopping or No shopping – My advice is to be sensitive.  If your hubs is not a browser, please don’t torture him.  It’s his vacation, too.  As for us, we spend little money acquiring more “stuff,” so it’s not really an issue.  We both like to nose in unique, non-touristy, craftsman type of shops. (We do look for a “not cheesy” Christmas ornament to represent each adventure.)

Different Interests during different trips – We took a trip to the midwest, with the primary purpose of visiting all things Frank Lloyd Wright – including Taliesin in Wisconsin, and the Robie House in Chicago.  Our first visit to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, over ten years ago, was for all things automotive – The Barrett-Jackson car auction and Bondurant High Performance Driving School for hubs. Our trips to St. Louis and New Orleans were primarily in search of jazz and blues.

In each of the above instances, communication is the key!  It is far better to discuss things before you go, rather than to discover them after you arrive, or, even worse, to brood in silence when you find situations which test your compatibility!

As we return to Scottsdale this time, we’re soaking up warmth and a vibrant art scene enmeshed in Southwest culture.

So how about it, fellow voyagers?  What compromises in travel have you needed to make as you go wandering during retirement?

Lynn

 

New Years Wandering – Idaho Style

Happy New Year, Voyagers!  I hope this New Year’s Eve and New Years Day found you warm, cozy and introspective!  As for the hubs and I, we were so lucky this year to be invited to the new cabin of some cherished friends.  On Saturday afternoon, we took off for the short trip to McCall, Idaho.  McCall is located just a couple of hours north of Boise on State Hwy 55.  The drive north travels along the Payette River Scenic Byway, which is lovely this time of year!

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Just 110 miles north of Boise on Payette Lake sits the resort town of McCall.  It’s a quaint summertime playground, which has its own appeal during the winter months.

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In the summertime, Payette Lake is a paradise for boats, jet skis, kayaks, paddle boards, hikers and tourists.

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In the wintertime, the area’s biggest draw is Brundage Mountain Ski Resort, just 10 minutes up the hill.  But during those non-skiing moments, McCall is a great place for other family friendly activities!

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As for us, we were toasty warm, enjoying the company of our friends, trying to decide on appropriate resolutions, and, you guessed it…drinking wine!  So how about you – where did you spend your New Year’s Eve?  Next year, you might want to consider McCall!

Lynn

Encore Quotes – Travel Makes You Richer

Happy Friday, fellow Voyagers!  A couple of years ago we decided not to build a big fancy-schmancy new home, and instead, opted to sell our property so that we might pursue a wider range of experiences on the Voyage.  Best. Decision. Ever!!!  So this Friday finds me exploring and taking in all the funky sites, soaking up the flavor of this fine city.  Life truly is about collecting experiences…Not Stuff!  And so, as I sit here under the Public Market sign, drinking a Pumpkin Spiced Chai (cliche, I know…but so delicious!) I’m wishing you all a weekend full of rich exploration!

Lynn

Seattle Simplified – Our Best Travel Tips

This week finds us once again in the lovely city of Seattle, Washington. He’s “Encoring” and I’m “Voyaging!”  Seattle has become one of our favorite cities in the Pacific Northwest, and we’ve figured out some hassle-free ways to visit, which I’d like to share.

First off, don’t rent a car! When you arrive at Sea-Tac International Airport, follow the signs to the Link Light Rail, which for $3.00/pp will take you right into downtown Seattle. Safe, clean, easy.  And no paying ridiculous parking fees for overnight parking.

Get off at the Westlake Center stop.  Follow the exit signs to 4th and Pine.  This exit will bring you out approximately 1/2 block from The Mayflower Park Hotel.

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mayflower-park

This historic 1927 hotel in the heart of downtown has been completely renovated, and will give you a sense of old-world style at a reasonable price.  You can read the hotel’s history in Seattle’s Mayflower Park Hotel: Images of America.

Have a cocktail in Oliver’s Lounge at the Mayflower. This beautiful lounge serves classic craft cocktails – Don’t even ask for something blended, but enjoy the beautiful setting and the huge windows to downtown.

Lynn's olivers bar

You are in the heart of most things wonderful in Seattle.

From the hotel, you are just a couple blocks from Pike Street Market.  It is a must see for the first time visitor.  It’s not every day that you get to see young men throwing fresh fish!

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Or listen to fabulous street musicians.

About halfway down the market, just before Mick’s Peppouri (which sells yummy pepper jellies) is sky bridge which will lead you to an elevator, taking you down to the parking area off of the water front.  See how I did that?  We are not climbing hills or stairs if possible!  Once you are down at the waterfront, you can spend the entire day enjoying Seattle’s Great Wheel, Wings over Washington (lots of fun – I’d do it twice), cute little shops on the piers, and so, so much great seafood!

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If you are a coffee lover, there are Starbucks on every other corner, including the original Starbucks, about halfway down the market on Pike Place.

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While you are in the area, I highly recommend Bacco Cafe at the corner of 1st St. and Stewart.  This cute little cafe features a delightful juice bar menu and yummy Pacific northwest fare.  A perfect spot for breakfast or lunch, and one of our faves.

One block north of the Mayflower Park, on the second floor of Nordstrom, you will find the Monorail to Seattle Center.  There’s a lot to see on the grounds, including one of the most recognized structures in the U.S., the Space Needle,

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Chihuly Garden and Glass,

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and even the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) which is dedicated to the history and exploration of popular music, science fiction, and pop culture.

Walk down the Broad Street from the Space Needle and you arrive at the Olympic Sculpture Park.  This outdoor sculpture garden is serene and lovely for a stroll on the waterfront.

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When you are tired of shopping, and you’ve completely devoured the breathtaking waterfront, you can explore the area surrounding Lake Union just as easily.  From the Mayflower Park, walk about a block up Stewart Street and take the South Lake Union Streetcar out to Lake Union.  There, you can have lunch at Duke’s Seafood and Chowder, look at the marina, and watch the sailboats on the lake.

If you’re an art lover, the Seattle Art Museum is just 6 or 7 blocks from the hotel.

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I’ve given you enough ideas for Seattle exploration to keep you busy for several days!  There are endless eateries featuring fresh seafood.  And here’s the best tip I’ve learned yet.  Don’t be daunted by the steep hills when walking from the waterfront to almost everywhere.  Just know and remember this…Pike Street (at the entrance to the market) is relatively flat , heading west to east.  So no matter where you are, head toward Pike Street and walk east (no huffing and puffing,) then travel a couple blocks to the north to get back to the hotel.  You’re welcome.

Hope I’ve inspired you to check out this wonderful city.  Can’t wait to hear what you think!

Lynn

The Thunderbird Lodge at Lake Tahoe

While visiting the north shore of Lake Tahoe, we had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Thunderbird Lodge.  This property was built in 1936 as the private residence of George Whittell.  George Whittell originally purchased 40,000 acres on the east shore of Lake Tahoe and possessed 26 miles of its shoreline.  It seems that George was quite a colorful character, and developed a love of wild animals, booze, poker and women.  He built a separate enclosure for his pet Sumatran elephant, Mingo, and kept a full grown lion, Bill, as a pet.

Thunderbird Living Room

Living area in Thunderbird Lodge

His Thunderbird Lodge home is fascinating to tour, primarily because of its situation among enormous granite boulders on the property, along with its 600-foot underground tunnel which connects his boathouse to the residence.

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Giant granite boulders surround the lodge

During the home’s construction, Whittell hired Native American boys to construct a series of intricate stone paths, which later became known as “the Dragon’s Tail.”

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Dragon’s Tail Walk

Thunderbird Beach

Private beach, surrounded by huge boulders.

Whittell summered at Thunderbird, and while there commissioned the building of Lake Tahoe’s most recognizable speedboat, The Thunderbird.  It’s mahogany hull and huge twin V-12 engines are currently in restoration in Incline Village, and will be returned to the Lodge in the near future.

Thunderbird Poker Table

This poker room had a door through which he could sneak away when he wanted privacy!

While Whittell’s original plan was to build a resort and condominium complex, along with a ski resort, his later lifestyle altered those plans.  He became more and more reclusive and his privacy was highly valued.  Ultimately, he sold off vast pieces of his property to the Nevada State Parks Department and other agencies.  After his death, Wall Street maven Jack Dreyfus purchased the remaining estate and ultimately sold most of it to the U.S Forest service.

It is the result of George Whittell’s reclusive nature that the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe remains largely undeveloped today.  Hubs and I were fascinated by the careful siting of the original home, and the use of materials to marry the residence to its site.  If you happen to visit the Lake Tahoe area, it’s worth it to take a tour of this historical home.

Lynn

The Other Tahoe

Hubs and I have traveled to a conference last week at Lake Tahoe.  Not the Lake Tahoe that everyone thinks about when they say they are going to Tahoe.  That would be the community of South Lake Tahoe that sits right on the Nevada-California border.

This conference was at the north shore of Lake Tahoe at Incline Village.  While it is still as exorbitant and expensive as the other Tahoe, it does not have quite the level of commercialism that reigns supreme on the south shore.

Tahoe Beach

While we were there, the weather fluctuated from sunny and calm, to downright windy, and even included some snow flurries.  When it’s windy like that, the lake looks more like the ocean than an inland lake at 6200 feet.

Tahoe Waves

Our stay brought us to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino in Incline Village, NV.  We were greeted by these three bears and a glass of champagne.  What could be bad about that?

Tahoe Bears

And the resort has all of the high end amenities you’d expect of a Four Diamond Resort.  Heated pools and hot tubs, fancy schmancy spa, fire pit, gift shop and sports shop, and several restaurants and cafes where I spent too much money and ate too much. And because you are in Nevada, you can also indulge in games of chance in a well-appointed casino, um, and have a cocktail or two (or three) in one of several lounge areas.

Tahoe from Window

I’d have to say that if you are going to hang out with a spouse at a conference, overall, this was not a bad place at which to do it!

 

Lynn

Beautiful Basseterre, St. Kitts

When you explore St. Kitts, especially if you arrive via cruise ship, the first thing you encounter is the monkey peddlers.  Here’s the warning:  They will want to take your picture (Their monkeys, your camera).  Not a bad thing, a guy’s gotta make a living, right…but if you want to hold a monkey, as I did, be sure to negotiate your terms in advance!

Monkey Head

As you wander into town, away from the cruise terminal, you will come across Independence Park.  Notice the old stone buildings, where slaves were once held prior to being sold in the slave trade.  And if you are lucky, like we were, beautiful bougainvillea will be in bloom.

Bougainvillea St. Kitts

Across from the park sits the Immaculate Conception Co-Cathedral Catholic Church. This cool and stately church, flanked by palms at the front entrance, welcomes all travelers and is beautiful in its simplicity.

St. Kitts Cathedral

Also on the park is the Gallery Café, a gem not to be missed. Enjoy the art, but be sure to wander all the way to the back, for a brunch snack and a little rest in the quaint garden seating area.

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If you get an opportunity, hire someone to take you up to Romney Manor (originally owned by Thomas Jefferson’s great, great, great grandfather) and now the site of Caribelle Batik. If you are a fabric hound, as I am, watching these talented women draw in hot wax is not to be missed!

Caribelle Batik

We barely scratched the surface of St. Kitts.  After meeting some of her warm, friendly people, I can only hope that we get the opportunity to return someday!

Batik photo credit: Caribelle Batik, St. Kitts

Lynn