Don't forget to double click on pictures to enlarge

Monday, March 30, 2009

From out of the ashes cont.

EXOTIC....that is the only word to describe the Gamboa Resort (do yourself a favor and look at the pictures available on this site...) in Panama.
Located 17 miles from Panama City and a 15 hour flight from Arizona, it is a nature lovers paradise. We actually had to trade down to a simple hotel room rather than a condo to be able to secure a week here but it was more than worth it.

Although I had never given a lot of thought to the Panama canal that this resort is next to (and the USA built), I enjoyed learning of it and seeing it in action....... Brilliant! It was also a great treat to have our guide say to us...."USA come back" compared to the "USA go home" that has been slung around. He said they were treated so much better when the USA was there.

The best thing about this resort, is the resort is just breathtaking everywhere you look....inside and out. It faces the Chagres River and in the morning the fog sits on the tops of the deep forest behind all to be enjoyed in our specially made hammock

greenery, water structures and decorative rod iron were all part of the hotel and the monkey bar which had a full length veranda to sit on and enjoy the view. Every late afternoon squawking parrots would fly (I guess south) for the night...what a sound they made.

A HUGE pool with a waterfall the full length of it and can you imagine....We were the only ones in it! Hubby and I played around and enjoyed Mai Tai's at the swim up bar and there were no sexy little babes to be compared to, just us two old codgers:)

Most of my trips include an animal of some sort and here there was a resident cat that everyone cat, I can tell you, His pathetic meow had us all bringing him dinners.

This was the mode of travel to the boats for the tours or down to the restaurant at the bottom of the hill on the river that included these swimming entertainers

There was plenty to do on the property but they also offered many tours. I have two favorites.....the boat ride to monkey island where the monkeys would jump in the boat to get the banana's that were offered even with their babies on their back

but believe had to be fast to get a picture and fortunately another traveler was, whom I borrowed this and other pictures from.

Another most interesting tour was getting permission to go to a private island and visit the Embera tribe. Our tour guide was black as coal and spoke with a British accent...always threw me for a loop, but he was a really nice guy and could speak the Inidan langauage as well so he interpreted for our tour. The first big challenge is that you have to go in a little canoe to the island and let me tell you...It was a little narrow canoe!! I was not sure my butt was going to fit in it and then it was maned by an Indian wearing only a loin cloth...sorry, I don't have a picture of that:)

The chief of the tribe, children and dogs all greeted us and welcomed us to their island. It was a community of several families and they each took turns preparing the food in the community kitchen which was a loft up in the trees. We climbed up to it (on tree stumps) and was prepared a fried fish lunch where they shared about their traditions, culture and products they made. All the women were topless including our cook

It was a good lunch and also included fried bananas. They made several different tourist things like jewelry and baskets and etc. I was fascinated by how they made things from the different colored reeds and asked to buy this hot pad unfinished
The lady was amazed I would pay full price for something unfinished and It graces my wall in my bathroom to remind me of this wonderful trip.
Now as noted earlier all trips have the good and the bad. For this trip the bad was the food...not very good and not a lot of variety and the service was very slow but this was the only time my hubby and I were ever given a goodbye gift from a server, She was a sweetie. The mosquitoes were bad and the poor side of Panama City is heartbreaking and it is a very long flight but if time and money were no issue would I go back?????? In a minute!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From out of the ashes cont.

It was remarked that I lived such an exciting life...but because of being involved in World competition, travel has always been part of my married life however, in 1970 it meant driving all night with another couple (to save gas) to go to a competition in San Jose, Ca. and the cheapest motel was the criteria not the amenities:) but that trip also included a tour of the Winchester Mansion as well as a 5th place trophy.

Travel for me in learning. Learning about other places and people but also about myself and my responses to the challenges travel often brings. The one sure thing about travel is that it is NEVER what you may be better or it may be worse but it is never how you imagined it to be........................

I had always wanted to go to Maine and so I began our search for our next exchange.......

The Samoset Resort seemed to be the nicest one but it was also more isolated than those in the southern part of the state............but we knew we were renting a car and we like to drive so this was our choice
located in Rockport, Maine
Beautiful....yes, but this resort was all about golfing (another lesson to be learned) and we aren't golfers but we love LOBSTER....of my gosh, it was the best lobster I had ever eaten and we could have it everyday! They even served it "sissy style" which means it was shelled and swimming in butter. Makes my mouth water even today and of course the view from the restaurant was breathtaking.
We managed many day trips to nearby areas and the buildings were fascinating to me
This was a little bar that we just had to check out.....

and this was a Emporium...meaning a what not shop with a outdoor BBQ for a lunch stop
that included the most amazing wood carvings

One day we found a little winery that took us down a dirt road past little rustic homes but the best place we went to? Bar Harbor, Maine.
This is how I imagined Maine to be...........The prettiest little town with tons of little shops, and this beautiful hotel right on the water.

You guessed it....we spent the extra money and spent the night even though it was double dipping you might say but we knew we would never be back here so we took the "need to enjoy it while you can" theory.
This area had many beautiful homes
that one could only imagine living in.....yes, I definitely would recommend Bar Harbor, Maine as a vacation spot.

There were many surprises along the way like the waterfall no one paid any attention to behind the restaurant
and the strangest restaurant that wrote the menu on butcher paper and hung it up where you entered and served so casually you weren't sure you were in restaurant.... note: this restaurant was recommended to us because from the looks of it we would have never gone there....but oh, what great food.
and a little bar called "Route 66"!
This was the most amazing thing to me....I mean, I lived on old route 66 growing up in Arizona and this is MAINE. You could spend hours looking at all the memorabilia they had displayed but how about the lamp made out of old Melamie dishes....
from ceiling to floor there were displays...
No trip to Maine would be complete without a light house experience and the walk over was a bit challenging....
but the view after you got there was a ahhhhh moment.
Hope I am not boring you but I sure am having a good time looking back...............
to be continued......................

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

From out of the ashes

Even in the mist of bad comes good. I believe this, so although I have shared my horror story of our timeshare, it is only fair to share a little of the other side.

You see.....there are some people who need a little help to get out of their comfort zone and go to places they may not have gone to before; So it was with my hubby and I.

When we bought the timeshare it came with the first years membership to RCI and a book showing all the wonderful places you could go. I spent hours with my nose in that book! It also included an extra vacation of one week at a facility for $199.00. Well, I wasn't as smart then, and didn't do my homework on the Internet to find out the location, reviews and etc. of the resort so I chose the Mayan Sea Garden in Mazatlan, Mexico
The grounds of the resort were beautiful but the suites left a bit to be desired and it was located very far north from town. A couple of highlights was how the people gathered on the beach just before sunset to see the sun drop into the ocean and then cheer:) This was a nightly ritual........and the restaurant on the facility served pretty good food..........Warning!!! Margarita's in Mexico are not the same as in the US....much stronger!
We even made friends with one of the beach hawkers and he shared about his life selling stuff on the beach......very interesting. Although we were pretty isolated there, my hubby took the initiative and said "Well, we're here, lets make the most of it" and we checked out the tours available and booked several different of them included lunch in a small little town where the children greeted us on donkeys:) and we saw them making bricks by hand and many different other ways of their life apart from tourism.. We also found how US money in tips were special treats and greatly appreciated (maybe not the case these days). We took the Pulmonias several times
into town to try out some of the restaurants and although the Mayan Sea Garden is not our pick of resorts......Mazatlan is one of our very favorite places to visit and we have been back several times apart from the timeshare....(PS the Shrimp Bucket restaurant is not to be missed if you go).

Our first real exchange of our timeshare was to Whistler, Canada. I had never heard of the place before but loved the picture it showed and did do my homework and thought we might enjoy it here.

Club Intrawest-Whistler
What an awesome experience! We flew into Vancouver and then drove up to Whistler. The drive itself was wonderful and we were pleasantly surprised at our facility. The cutest little two bedroom condo with a balcony that had a pine tree view. Now when you are a desert rat like me.....that is heaven. It also included a fireplace for the cool evenings and two little towns walking distance from our unit. Our place was next to the ski lift area (one morning it included a grazing black bear) and even though it was spring time with very mild weather and blooming tulips......there was lots of snow up on the mountain where we watched people snowboarding and skiing with a cup of hot chocolate. There even was a ski lift for people with bikes and only went up the mountain so far and then they would race down. Such diversity would be hard to match. Morning walks, afternoon car rides, real homemade soup at a little out of the way restaurant, sitting in the crisp air nice and cosy in the hot tub mmmmmmmm good memories. Of course Whistler has had a big make over since our visit.........they are going to hold the 2010 Olympics there.
to be continued................................................................................

Friday, March 20, 2009

What's it worth?

My hubby deals in antique guns and time and time again someone will say "It's worth $$$$$$$.

Wrong! It is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. The books can say it is worth so much, friends can tell you how valuable it is and etc. but the bottom dollar is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

It can be a hard lesson to learn as we ourselves recently experienced. Last year, I posted about owning a time share. Well, if you think the housing market is upside down.........try timeshares.

We have known for some time now that selling our timeshare was rather unlikely but the problem is that the yearly maintenance fees never go away unless someone else takes over the title. It all sounds wonderful at the time that you buy the timeshare and your kids can inherit it but they also inherit the yearly maintenance fees/exchange fees and etc. whether you use it or not.

When we first bought our timeshare the yearly fee was around $600.00 a is now up to $900.00 and that doesn't include RCI membership and exchange fees and we have no control over it...they can raise it to any amount they see fit and exchanges are getting harder to make because of the way the travel market is now.

Well, we will just quit using it and paying the fees and then the timeshare will go back to the company, wrong....they will come after your assets to pay for the yearly fees so unless you go Bankrupt you will pay......forever.

I am happy to say....we no longer own our timeshare but it was a costly, painful thing to do.
So, if you are tempted to buy a time share................................beware!!
and always is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

March 17th is the agreed upon day to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Being that I have no Irish in my background and I am not of Catholic faith, all I knew of this day is if you didn't wear green would get pinched. I went here and found a lot of information about this celebrated day including the fact that the Chicago River is dyed green every year

the green shamrock was choosen to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish.
As for the corned beef and cabbage??? Cabbage has long been a staple of the Irish diet, but it was traditionally served with Irish bacon, not corned beef. The corned beef was substituted for bacon by Irish immigrants to the Americas around the turn of the century who could not afford the real thing. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.
I am sure that I am not the only person to sort of celebrate a holiday I really knew nothing about but one thing I will guarantee you......I will not ask my Government to ban it because I don't celebrate it........................................ so for those of you who do
Happy St. Pat's Card

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Spring fever is all over blogville

The definition of spring is:
A time of growth and renewal.
The season of the year where the weather becomes warmer and plants revive.

March 21st is the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and for those who have endured months and months of cold, barren, snowed in, sunless skies, the anticipation of spring is hard to contain.

For us here in the Southern Hemisphere it is perhaps, not so brilliant, but it is the one time of the year we can truly be free....not only of coats, shoes and etc. but also fans and Air conditioning. Where we can actually breathe fresh air and open the doors without something of great cost flying out (electricity).

These were some words I found describing spring:
warm, rain, flowers, outdoor playing, time change, Easter, spring break, spring cleaning, fresh air, flowers, bugs, cherry blossoms, sun, new life, nature awakening, green haze, drifting clouds, soaring kites, chirping nesting birds, spongy earth and roaring creeks.

It is indeed different things to different people but one thing is for's a change we can count on!

Here are a few glimpses of my spring......................

and here's wishing you................................ Flower
a blooming one!

Friday, March 6, 2009


Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity
St. Augustine
This quote normally would inspire an immediate guilt trip, but today, I am claiming it to inspire......Hope

I shared a while back that I was teaching my Granddaughter to knit on a loom and she said "lets make more things".

Yesterday we did these "things" together.........
Glow in the dark puzzle

this cute princess purse as well as lunch at Taco Bell:) but what I have come to understand is that it is not the things that are important but rather the time spent together.
She gets a early release from school once every month so we have decided to try to make that our special day...a habit if you will, and my hope is that one day it will become a necessity for us to spend a little time together, laughing, talking and creating crafts and sharing a special relationship.