Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: holidays Page 2 of 5

Now appearing in real life, sort of…

I exist!  Really I do!

Not just a figment of someone’s imagination that was left in Mexico somewhere, nope, nope, not at all!

While I still have so many hours of photo editing, which means the vacation isn’t yet COMPLETELY over, I have had a nice gentle return to reality (thanks to my team at work, you did a GREAT job giving me plenty of time to catch up and reacquaint myself with choices slightly more serious than the lido deck or the promenade).  So, I suppose I should announce here that… IM BAAAAACK!

A few random thoughts from the trip while I make the pictures pretty…

Great vacation weather > shitty vacation weather > no vacation.  However, when some of your activities are based upon light and visibility, sometimes shitty vacation weather puts a damper on things.  Especially when the ocean in Roatan decides to attack you instead of being nice, when you were looking forward to it most of all, but more on that later. ><

Wind nor rain nor crappy visibility nor currentous waters will not keep me from my fishies though!!!

A fantastic way to make sure you don’t gain weight on vacation is to develop a minor stomach bug at the end of it (thankfully, just enough to have a slightly upset stomach, not enough to ruin my vacation).  Seriously, the scale today said 1.2 lbs lower than I weighed the day before I got on the boat, and my appetite is definitely what it was before, if not lower.  I’m definitely not loving the not-100% feeling that I’m feeling but I’m trying to find the silver lining here… 🙂

Going on vacation with family members who’s main goal is to eat all the food makes not eating like an asshole YOURSELF a challenge, but one that I did not completely fail.  One that I didn’t completely succeed at, for sure, as referenced by the midnight pizza one two nights, and the unfortunate discovery of bags of potato chips freely given at the deli counter, but obviously, I didn’t gain back all the weight I lost since March like I feared I would.

Coral rash sucks, but sucks more for the coral. 🙁

One thing that helped was the gym was SUPER nice.  Unfortunately our schedules didn’t sync up with any spin classes like we hoped, but they had nice new cardio machines and a boatload of kettlebells which I used every day we weren’t in port (and port days included between 1.5-3 hours in the water so I wasn’t completely slacking there either).  While you can’t out exercise a crappy diet, you can at least account for a few beers or extra bread and butter with dinner with some activity and I did my damndest.

And finally, I’m not entirely sure if there’s anything more relaxing than a massage on the beach after a few margaritas listening to the sound of the rain.  If I need to go to a happy place in the future, Costa Maya will be in my arsenal. 🙂

Moar later.  For now, I’m reacquainting myself with vegetables and gentle workouts (my body is not quite ready for anything ass kicking yet) and opening up the calorie tracker for the first time in a few weeks and stopping by Snap Kitchen on the way home for easy peasy healthy food to get me through to the weekend when I can make some of my own.  Life.  And back to it.

2017 wrap up – an epic year of drive and exploration

I can’t let December 31st come and go without a nod to how the year went, so, without further ado, the tale of the year of freakin’ epicness which was 2017 shall commence.

One of the best moments of 2017.

A Race: Ironman Texas.

Done, and dusted.  It’s kind of amazing to have such a warm glow around a race with so many trials and tribulations during it, and one that you can envision literally taking HOURS off your time with a better day, but you only have one first IM and I’ll always remember it fondly.  Shit canal, Hardy toll road headwind, and wonky knees and all.

I envisioned it as the training being a means to a goal, and all the payoff being that day.  I actually really enjoyed the process, the journey, and I might have been just as proud of some of those long training efforts as I was finishing the Ironman proper.  But that red carpet moment was pretty effing awesome, don’t get me wrong.

Smiling because I did not at that point know exactly how close I had come to Nationals.

Also, getting your big goal race out of the way in April was kind of awesome.  I committed to nothing for the rest of the year and found out a few things:

  • I wanted back on my bike rather quickly and I set goals to ride centuries because they sounded fun.  So, 2017 organically became the year of the bike with over 3500 miles, very little of them indoors.
  • My run training went so well from Jan-Mar, and then everything went to hell, both with my body condition and also my motivation.  It was a very small mileage year with about 450 miles and I’m okay with that.
  • Swimming… eh.  Again, I did a lot to prepare for the IM and then all I wanted to do was ride my bike after.  Even during the summer.  All said, I swam 52 miles this year, so that’s not shabby.
  • Weights – I hit a routine for a while with bodyweight workouts over lunch but struggled to get to the gym to lift heavy most of the year.

I actually had two pretty decent sprint triathlon results at Jack’s Generic and Kerrville (let’s ignore the shitshow that was Lake Pflugerville 8 weeks out of an Ironman), which have ignited my goals to qualify for Nationals next year.

I also spent a lot of time really digging into coaching (got my cert) and psychology reading non-fiction triathlon books, and have started working on my mental game here (and will expand upon this in 2018).

Habits and Practices:

Full of washed veggies. And also cooked and eaten outside.

  • Facebook and twitter – I spent a lot of the year using them sparingly, and then I found some awesome triathlon groups on Facebook and found myself involved (but also wasting a lot of time on social media).  I’ve logged back out in December, and I think I’ll just have to continue to be conscious about the mindless and not-super-relaxing scrolling while watching TV.
  • I made a goal to stop rushing and fumbling with things.  I would not give myself a passing grade on this, and it’s kind of the core of my intentions for next year.
  • Washing my fruits and veggies – I would give myself a 98% on this one.  It’s one of those stupid things not to do and an easy goal to conquer.  It’s now habit.
  • I wanted to weigh less than I did Jan 1, 2017.  Check.  I’m about 5 lbs down, give or take, but that’s still something.
  • Beer January – check.  The rest of the year watching my alcohol portions?  Still something I struggle with – mostly because I have a large tolerance and it doesn’t affect me the way it affects most mortals.  One large slice of cake makes me ill, but I can drink a mess of whiskey and feel fine (as well as the next day).  I also enjoy  whiskey way more than cake.  But… neither of these things are great in large quantities.  The battle continues to control my portions next year.

I made some way-too-ambitious goals for self-enrichment and I think I learned from that for 2018.  If this was my full time focus, if I wasn’t also a triathlete and a wife and a daughter and a full time game producer and didn’t have friends, maybe I could have made more progress – but right now, all those things take priority over these.  And that’s ok.  It’s not my livelihood, its just something I’d like to pursue someday.

One of the best books I read this year…

Learning/Certification:

  • Finish my triathlon coaching class and pass the exam – CHECK
  • After IM Texas, start researching some sort of part time or volunteer opportunity that will help me get some sort of experience. – NOPE.  Instead I rode my bike a lot.  Oops.
  • Continue to work on my social media plan for this blog as practice. Eh… I use hashtags on Insta.  I post occasionally on my AR facebook page.  I haven’t really been trying as of late.  It stopped being a focus and that’s ok.
  • Read some business books and other triathlon training books instead of JUST my pulpy sci fi. – CHECK.  At least 1-2 per month starting in the back half of the year.

Set Up

  • Write a business plan and figure out who I really want to reach and the services I want to provide. NOPE.  I’ve had some thoughts here but nothing concrete.
  • Create a website with all the bells and whistles it needs. NOPE. 
  • Start writing some book notes CHECK.  More than, actually.

(Big) Baby Steps.  By the end of the year I want to:

  • Have a website ready to go that can take people’s money and provide a service. – NOPE. 
  • At the very least, start providing a small service via fiverr or something similar to test the waters. – NOPE.  I decided this wasn’t a great idea until I really decide what my business plan is.
  • Have a published book (even if it’s just self published).  NOPE, but I’m getting close to draft 1 done, so that’s something!

Other Stuff:

Sunsets and stars outside were definitely highlights of 2017.

Game night – we had three and then our end of year booked up so fast we didn’t have a free weekend.  I’m really looking forward to reviving this next year!

Video games – I was really bad at this in 2017.  I wanted to list 20 that I played multiple times, and I can only do the games I work on, Clash of Clans, Dance Dance Revolution, Gran Turismo 5, Stardew Valley, Job Simulator, That’s You, and… errr… that’s it.  Oops.

Vacations: I didn’t do my reunion in Reno/Tahoe, and we chose Bonaire over a liveaboard diving trip, but I was super excited to take all these trips:

And, all the other things.  Did I mention I like goals?

Little stuff:

  • Hem/fix a few pairs of pants. NOPE.  2018?
  • Clean out both cars. CHECK (and then they got dirty again, funny how that happens…)
  • Take my existing extra hoka soles and cut them and put them in my less comfortable shoes. NOPE.  So easy, and not done.  Oops.
  • Appointments
    • Find a new doctor and get an exam – CHECK
    • Financial planner – NOPE (2018)
    • Bike fit – CHECK!
    • Eye doctor appt and exam (my frames are SOOOOO scratched) – CHECK!

Bigger Stuff:

I still have yet to do a full reveal but here are some fruits of our labor…

  • Clean out and renovate the office.  We were hoping to get to it over holiday break, but it didn’t happen. CHECK!!! This is where I’m writing this right now.
  • Figuring out a place to store (or a new home for) this other gaming table we have that is currently threatening to impale anyone that sleeps on the left side of our guest room. CHECK! (It’s right next to me)
  • Make the workout room a proper pain cave with a TV, computers and monitors for Zwifting.  CHECK – the trainers now live in the workout room and I found I actually enjoy music more than movies/screens so we’ve been rocking that (though I haven’t done more than an hour).
  • Figure out a more permanent solution than boxes and a blanket in a closet for the leezard (though she seems ok with it). NOPE – 2018.  She’s fine with it but her plate of salad falls over and makes a mess.  
  • As long as our financial situation seems stable, picking a renovation project (kitchen, patio, etc) and do it. CHECK.  Kitchen has like two things left on the TO DO list (to do later today).
  • Get a shed.  CHECK. 
  • I want to train myself to be ambidextrous on the bike.  NOPE.  Need to work on this one on the cruiser without clips first.
  • iFly.  NOPE.  At least they never expire…
  • Comedy tickets.  NOPE.  We went to a few shows but not enough to use up the tickets.  I gave them away as presents to people at work.  Oh well.
  • #goplayoutside – CHECK.  The camper and being a crazy cyclist really helped me spent a lot of time outdoors.  The last two months (between cold weather and kitchen renovation obligations) have been driving me nuts, but I know playing outside season will come back again and I’ll be out there.

I usually do this thing where I try to distill the year into three words and I’ll do it again.

2017: the year of turtle home, for sure…

Epic.  I mean, yeah, this word is overused, but my first Ironman, riding so many bikes, buying a camper and spending almost three weeks in it in the second half of the year.  25+ hours underwater back in my happy place in Bonaire.   Tri coach certification, finishing a kitchen remodel and a lot of other fairly major house projects, and eeking out 3/4 of a draft of my first novel.  SO MUCH THIS YEAR.

Explore.  I feel like I got to know my town better, biking over what felt like every inch of it over and over.  We camped SIX times in the span of four months in the camper.  I hit the water in five different countries this year.  I also explored the inside of my grey matter a bit pushing myself through Ironman training and racing, and then working on my head game in for Sprints.

Driven.  I felt a pull this year like no other year to really expand my goals beyond being a triathlete.  I’ve wanted to write a book for over half my life and I finally started it.  We’ve been talking about redoing the kitchen since we moved in.  We’ve been talking about Ironman since we started triathlon.  While there are a lot of things on my list still to do from this year, I checked off, or at least started, some of the real big ones.

Hope you have a happy New Year’s Eve, and cheers to a fabulous 2018!

What’s your biggest 2017 accomplishment?  Share in the comments, since goals make me unreasonably happy!

Progress and Thankfulness

I’ve been looking at this kitchen remodel like a long race.

Somewhere between the proverbial start line and the first few hundred meters of the swim (picking up the cabinets).

I’d say right now, I’m mid bike.  Not quite sure if I’m over half way yet, but close.  I’m far enough in to feel a little fatigue, but there’s a lot left to go.  The process is actually not been too bad, I honestly think that playing “helper” to people who know what they’re doing is the best possible scenario.  If it was contractors, I think I would be impatient and antsy (well, MORE impatient and antsy).  If we were doing it all ourselves, we would be SO overwhelmed.  For example, we’re putting crown molding over the tops of the cabinets to cover up the fact that they’re a little uneven.  I would have never thought of that, but I’m happy to help paint and hang it up!

So, it’s been about a week.  Last we spoke, everything was torn down.  I’m actually thrilled that went as quickly as it did because once that happened, there was no turning back.  Apparently, according to the in laws, it was the easiest demo they’ve ever done and I think they had fun doing it. 🙂

Garages are not for cars this week.  They are for painting cabinets.

The last week, in my world, was about two things: fighting off decision fatigue to make smart choices I won’t regret later, and painting all the things.

I was super excited to put together a kitchen exactly how I wanted it until I actually had to put the kitchen together!  I had procrastinated picking out a lot of things because a lot of shops are only open when I’m at work and also I think I was a little intimidated.  It was stressful (#fwp) because I was thinking about:

  • Resale value.  I’m not saying I want to move any time soon, but I also don’t think I’m going to live in this house until I die.  I never want to do this again so I’m making choices that are not so bold I’ll have to rip them out to list the house.
  • Personal style.  Conversely, I’m not a tan and light wood finish kitchen person.  I wanted to chose things that make me happy and excited.
  • Price.  I went into this making sure I didn’t cheap out on the crap that mattered, but I also know that the 2800$ quartz counter we picked out (and actually fell in love with) is just as awesome as the 7300$ quartz counter that was our other choice.  Similarly, I don’t need the 350$ faucet I loved when I found one for 199$ with a slightly different curvature but almost the same.
  • Smart DIY vs Stupid DIY.  We can paint and hang cabinets and put on hardware and save money on the labor.  However, I started to get greedy when I was able to purchase 4 granite slabs for about 400 bucks.  After a day or two I thought better and returned them (except one I’m keeping for a bathroom redo next post-Ironman season, heh).  Our quote is about as cheap as the granite + tools and supplies we’d need to do it, and they’ll get it done in one day and they guarantee their work for life.

But, I got through it and I think we made good choices.  I fell in love with the clearance backsplash.  We found an amazing deal on some quartz counters.  When I asked the guy for what his cheapest quartz was to get a baseline quote, he said we had picked it out (and it was #1 on our list).  Once I had both of those, we were able to finally pick out cabinet paint (the day we actually started painting…).  I picked out a faucet, and then when they didn’t have it in stock, found one cheaper that I liked just as much.  We found the microwave we wanted 40% off.  Everything is going so well!

Anyone else love Moulin Rouge as much as I do? 🙂

I was still worried that losing our apple green accent wall would make me feel all sad and plan.  I like black and white a LOT.  I’m super excited about what’s going on there.  But – I am a bright bold color person at heart.  I can’t say that I didn’t think for a second about the gorgeous RED SPARKLY granite counter.  However, the amazing and wonderful Zliten nudged us into getting a hue system as part of the remodel, and I am in love with my disco kitchen already and the cabinets don’t even have doors.

DISCO KITCHEN!

The only hiccup was the cabinet place left two of them off the order, but Zliten’s parents are local and were able to pick them up earlier this week.  They were out of what we ordered, but we were actually get a better configuration than we had picked before.  Definite lemonade out of lemons there!

So, at this moment in time, we’ve painted everything that can be painted right now.  Today after work, we’ll hang the top cabinet doors.  Then… we’re kind of at a stopping point until the family comes back on Friday to work, so we’ll have Thanksgiving completely off (I figured we’d come home and be finishing something up).  Wheee!

I have a list of everything that’s left to go, and while it’s long enough to freak me out, most of the surprises should be over.  Most of the decision making is over as well.  We’re down to good old fashioned work and I’m ok with that.

In other news…

Yay running without my heel feeling like it’s going to fall off!!!

I’m RUNNING AGAIN!!!  It’s not 100% pain free yet but I actually ran for an hour (5.4 miles) and then spent the entire day on my feet working on the kitchen and it didn’t set me back at all (felt fine the next day).  I ran three times last week and will get in 2-3 times this week and then hopefully ramp up a little bit starting next week – still 3 times, but extend the weekday runs closer to 45-60 mins and the weekend run a bit past an hour (75-90 depending on how I feel).

I’ve been neglecting my bike and the pool.  I’ve been doing some lazy weights workouts sporadically.  It’s ok.  I’m certain I’ll get back to it soon.  I’ve got 8 weeks ’til 3M and while that kind of freaks me out, I’ve gone from offseason to a 70.3 PR in that amount of time, so I’m sure it will be NBD.

My body has actually been thanking me for taking an effing break.  While it’s slow going, my weight trend line is going down.  While I’m not training regularly or tracking my food.  During the holiday season.  I’m not sure what’s up but I won’t question the magic.  I would say I’m about 2 lbs away from where I raced Austin 70.3 last year, which was incremental goal #1.  If I could set a goal right now, it would be to see 170-something on the scale before December 31st.

While I have not been tracking my food (or even the negative diet quality score foods like I said I would), I have also been attempting to keep it all reasonable.  I am super thankful that I cooked up a storm to have healthy food available, and it’s been a lifesaver.  However, there were some days that I couldn’t bear finding a place to plug my microwave in or digging out the scrub brush to wash out a dish and we got takeout.  When we had the family here all weekend we got bbq and pizza and sandwiches to keep everyone fueled.  I would give myself about a C, but apparently that’s a passing grade right now, so I’ll go with it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I’m thankful for my life, even if it’s a little hectic right now, it’s also full of so much awesome.  I’m thankful for Zliten, family, friends, triathlon, scuba diving, that my kitchen will someday soon be in fully finished disco mode, and that I have a job that lets me afford to do all this.  And probably so much more, but for now, I’m thankful that I have a long weekend and I need to see about starting that right about…

Turtle Home Voyage #3 – Granger Lake

Last weekend, we were supposed to head to Port Aransas with the family for a weekend beach trip.  However, Port A really doesn’t *exist* right now, so we’re going to postpone our trip and go in the spring.

Here’s the highlight reel.  You can see everything here.

We had an extra day off work already booked, so we decided to take Turtle Home north instead of south and spent three days at Granger Lake.  The week before was extra hectic and stressful but once we pulled into our spot, I almost immediately relaxed because we had most of the campsite to ourselves.  The twenty-six slot section we were in had *maybe* 5 people at max over the weekend.  One happened to be right next to us, but she barely left her motorhome.  It was incredibly exactly everything I needed to destress.

Since Saturday was going to be quite a long day, we took Friday night easy.  We set up camp, and then cooked up a feast: steak, potatoes, and all the leftover veggies I had in the fridge.  So, so, so good.  Probably one of the best camping meals I’ve ever had.  We had a few light beers with dinner but went to bed around midnight like good kids.

But not before we got to see the spooky moon!

We had a day full of plans for Saturday – a bike date with Matt at 10am, and then lickety split, drive the hour up to Temple to hit up a sale to get our kitchen renovation supplies purchased, and spend some time with the fam.  Once we did some mental math on the store’s closing time and driving time, we realized we didn’t have time to ride the 40-50 miles as planned.  So, we went out for 30-ish-but-speedy in mind.

Once we hit the road, we found the wind was out to play.  I suggested we attempt another paceline because that worked REALLY REALLY well at HHH, and it was super nice to have three of us, which meant one mile of WORK and two miles of slight recovery.  We were able to keep a pretty nice speed and had some fun enjoying bikes on fairly empty country roads with light traffic.

We hit a turn and we made a puppy friend.  At first I was a little freaked out because you never know if dogs will be nice or aggressive, but thankfully, he just wanted to trot with us while we pedaled.  Sadly, this road was utter crapola, full of gravel and potholes and uneven, so we decided to turn around and do an out and back course instead a loop.

We also got to try out our anniversary presents.  Zliten picked us up these… walkie talkies… for lack of a better word, that attach to our helmets.  Spoiler alert: they rock my world.  Instead of spending most of our ride time shouting “WHAT” and “I can’t hear you” and “what did you call me? oh wait, you said turn left up here not you have a big rear”, we can just chat to each other like we were riding side by side.

Chipmunk to grey squirrel… can you hear me now?

Once we turned around, we hit this AWESOME tailwind.  We kept up our paceline and our speed climbed almost as fast as the temperature.  There was a (closed) bar that had sodas for sale on the honor system in a cooler out front, so we stopped and instead of a gel, I enjoyed the tastiest 1$ berry Fanta EVAR.  Biking in the country leads to fun discoveries!

We decided we had just enough time to roll up and down the Granger Dam road (adding about 6 miles), so we took some pictures at the Granger sign (as you do) and then time trialed our way back.  We spaced ourselves out every minute and busted ass down the dam road without drafting.  Strava says I got 7th place female and I know I held between 21-23 mph on my road bike, so I was pretty happy with life.  Yay bike fitness!

We quickly showered and changed and shoved turkey bacon avocado bagel sandwiches in our faces while driving and subsequently got a little lost on the way up and went about 15 minutes out of the way.  It worked out though, we found our people and our place and found out they were open later after all.  Whew!  After a jaunt around the store and a little wait, we met with our designer and finalized our cabinet order, added some granite slabs for the counter top (we shall see how that works out… but the difference in cost was 400$ vs 3000$, so we couldn’t pass that up) and some hardware and we got an INSANELY great deal.

We still have to buy some things and then also pay for it with blood, sweat, and tears, though Zliten’s parents are going to help us with a LOT of the work because they have done two kitchen redos now and are AWESOME.  I believe we still need to pick out paint, some tools to actually be able to cut granite, a backsplash (if we decide to do a backsplash and not just paint), a new kitchen faucet, a microwave with a stove vent, and probably about 20 other things that will come up, but the first big step is DONE!

Then, we went to a mexican restaurant, and I got a chicken fajita plate which was pretty yummy!  They had all sorts of salsas, which came in handy for the amazing breakfast tacos the rest of the weekend.

Oops.

We had planned to make an elaborate chicken, rice, veggies, and campfire bread feast that night, but we weren’t super hungry and were kind of exhausted so we just attempted to cook the bread as an experiment and I made some camping punch.  The punch worked out great.  The bread did NOT.  Ah well.  The guts actually were delicious but the crust was too burnt, so we’ll try it again next time for about half the cooking time.  We supplemented this void in our stomachs with dutch oven avocado oil popcorn and one tiny half smore because… camping.

I spent the evening listening to classic rock, watching the stars, and switching off reading my non-fiction Calm the F*ck Down – The Brave Triathlete sports psychology book and my Star Force space dinosaurs fiction book.  It was exactly everything I needed to, literally, calm the f*ck down after the last month and a half of CRAZY.

We stayed up way, way, way too late and subsequently stayed in bed until almost noon reading.  We started the day with a walk around the campsite and some amazing breakfast tacos with bacon, potatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese. Our ice had melted, so we hit the store for that and a few other things.  On the way back, we finally took a moment on the side of the road to poke one of the cotton bales on the farmland we had been eyeing all weekend.  Yep – even packed in tight, it’s still fluffy!  It felt just like a cotton swab.

After re-provisioning, we inflated the kayak and hit the actual LAKE part of Lake Granger.  We had planned to go all the way out to the dam (which was a couple of miles away), but once we got out of the little inlet area to more open water, the wind started to beat us up, so we just paddled in a big circle instead in the more protected water.  We mooed at cows on the shore and bopped each other with paddles and enjoyed the clouds dancing for us with the sun and we even found a lucky hat that we fished out of the water.  We logged a little over two miles of arm and shoulder work in about an hour.

For late lunch, we grilled up these ridiculous Sausage Slammer things.  This amazing abomination consists of cheddar cheese stuffed in a jalapeno stuffed in sausage with bacon wrapped around it.  We had one each and had to save the rest because we felt our hearts threaten to explode if we continued, but they were so, so delicious and decadent.

Om. Nom. Nom.

We had time for one more activity before dinner.  I had originally thought about blowing up the tube and floating in the water while my husband fished, but I felt like being a little more active.  I put on pants and shoes and took a hike by myself.  The way out was a lot slower because I stopped to take pictures of damn near everything.  I found an armadillo friend who was a little shy.  I saw lots of dragon fly sex.  I found my way to the haunted bridge in the pretty afternoon sun that makes it glow.  It was ultimately awesome.

The magical forest of scared-y dillos and bug shagging.

Stew was on the docket for dinner.  It’s an amazing meal… but it takes a long time.  Fortified from fatty fat slammers earlier and some beverages, we were plenty patient and the stew took a few hours, but it was worth it.  So much better than the crockpot.  Cooking on fire is the BEST!

Fire makes food magical… and look pretty for pictures too!

However, after two days of cooking on fire… the next morning, I had a headache the size of Texas.  I’d make the joke that it can’t be because of all the carbonated malt beverages the night before, but I know my body and it was an unreasonable pounding in my head for the amount of hops and barley soda consumed.  Either way, the best cure for a headache is water, so we pumped up the tube and Zliten attempted to feed the fish with worms while I floated back and forth between two trees and watched the clouds.

We dithered around and made another batch of breakfast tacos and packed up our things a little bit.  We almost lazed out, but we found a little patch of motivation and took off on our bikes around noon.  We decided to just circle the campsite since I didn’t know if I felt like riding one mile or twenty, and the end result was 6 miles in about 25 minutes before we stopped simply because we needed to vacate the premises.  My headache was still in force, but cycling didn’t make it worse, and everything is better on bikes.

Long weekend home away from home. 

We left the camp a little after the 2pm checkout, but it was so desolate no one minded.  After an uneventful drive home, we spent the rest of the day couchified and unpacking and doing ALL THE LAUNDRY.

While I will not claim much involvement in helping beyond moral support, over the weekend, my lovely husband fixed the outdoor shower, the hot water, cleaned the water tank, the outdoor light, switched out the propane tank, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.  At this point, the only thing that needs to be replaced is the battery, and the rest of the purchases are then just upgrades or toys!

Camping totally makes the week before and week after a little hectic.  There’s a lot of gear and prep and unpacking and you are absolutely away from your To Do list so you’re not making forward progress.  I didn’t even get to writing, which I totally could have and maybe should have since I’m now behind on my book.  Every so often though, it’s fun to say “fuck it” to your responsibilities and it’s SO WORTH IT to have those days where you’re just playing outside and the evenings where you’re disconnected from (most) technology and really focused, present, and in the moment.

I can’t wait to go again next weekend.

Save

Wanderlust on the cheap – 10 ways to vacation on a budget

Ah, it’s about to be vacation season.  I’ve got four camping trips planned from now until December, and I’m waffling back and forth on what I want to do for my actual VACATION vacation (requirement: must include scuba diving, snorkeling, and awesome photo opportunities).  This year, I’ve already been on a cruise to the Carribean with my folks, spent a week in the woods, plus a five day trip to do IM Texas in April.  I have the wanderlust and I have it bad.

The company isn’t quite so colorful at home.

I drop probably more than my share of income on it, but I also buy all my clothes from a thrift store and hang onto things until they are so worn out they’re not useful.  It’s one of my priorities.  I don’t remember most of the crap I’ve bought in the last 10 years, but I have vivid memories of my vacations.  I can be underwater with pretty fishies in blue water, which is not something I can do at home.  I can completely relax and let go, which is hard to do at home with one more chore or to do and the internet and the television all handily accessible.

I’ve made the mistake of thinking everyone is like me, but I know differently now.  I know some people who go five or even ten years without taking a vacation.  I’ve heard tell of people, ADULT people, who have never left their hometown.  I’ve also known a lot of people who only vacation to visit family or friends.  While that’s a wonderful thing, I love family and friends, and for those of you that aren’t (or have a spouse that’s) allergic to anything with fur, it can be a much cheaper option to get out of town for a bit.

However, you can miss out on some of the things that make a vacation a vacation.  You can’t completely let go and unwind when you’re staying in someone else’s guest room that’s going about their daily lives.  Also, unless your family is in Hawaii or Iceland, or somewhere else that you’d actually WANT to vacation, it’s really a visit.  Which is cool.  But it’s not a vacation.

What, your first idea for an excursion in Alaska in September ISN’T snorkeling?

How many new experiences would I have missed out on?  If I didn’t travel, I would have never been motivated to learn to scuba dive, which is now at least my third favorite hobby and one of the motivating factors on where I choose to roam.  I would have never climbed to see one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, Hanging Lake, or ran up a mountain in Juneau.  I wouldn’t have scaled the Colorado National Monument or up the Klondike Highway in Skagway (ok, partway…) on bikes.  I wouldn’t have snorkeled in Hawaii, Alaska, or any damn where you put an ocean or even a mildly pretty lake.

I love food and drink.  If I didn’t travel, I would have never had a REAL Belizian meat pie.  I would not have a sick obsession with Publix subs.  I would have never eaten Nepalese food in a little town in Colorado.  I would have never known the joy that is bean, bacon, and cheese breakfast tacos cooked over an open camp fire in the morning.  I wouldn’t have sat in a swim up bar in Jamaica drinking boozy banana drinks. I would have never had an (in)famous hand grenade in New Orleans and I would never have tried the fast food restaurant Krystal after having a few too many of them.

This is the stuff of dreams right here.

“Hey,” you say, “I get it, I want to travel!  But money’s tight, y’know?”

I got you.  If there’s a will, there’s a way.  Here’s ten tips to make travel more affordable/better so you can get the heck out of town and still have enough money to enjoy yourself.

1. Plan your trip when the air fare is cheaper. I am notorious for taking my vacations in early December because travel prices are at rock bottom.  We usually cruise in early March before spring break or on mother’s day weekend because it’s affordable.  Generally, if there’s a big holiday/event coming up, 2-3 weeks BEFORE and AFTER is the best time to travel.  Are the kids in school? Probably cheaper than spring/summer/winter break.  For those of you that have kids: I know my parents busted me out of school for vacations.  You’ll travel cheaper AND you’ll be your kid’s hero.

2. If you have set dates, consider being flexible with your destination.  For example, I knew I wanted to take a vacation for a specific week in December out of Florida.  Instead of doing a Key Largo trip (over 1000$ just for the condo), we took a cruise instead (less than 1000$ for both lodging and food and entertainment).

Condos are awesome because you have extra space and you can also make homemade meals from local food that look like this…

3. Consider staying at a condo/house rental vs a hotel.  Typically for the same prices as just a single room or maybe a little bit more, you can get a full kitchen, living room, patio, seperate bedroom (or two), a washing machine, and sometimes other cool amenities like a grill, a bike to ride, or even toys/games/dvds.  Besides being awesome for comfortability reasons, the grill/kitchen means you can cut down on food expenses.  While I love experiencing the food a location has to offer, I’d rather just have an easy breakfast and sometimes lunches I make at home.  And there’s nothing better than grilling some fish on the patio of your condo (that you biked a mile up the road to purchase from a fish market on the water)!  Some of my most memorable Key Largo meals were cooked that way.

4. Some things pay to book in advance, some are left best to the last minute.  For example, if you want to do a cruise excursion with the ship, book it ahead of time and it will cost less.  But, for the cheapest option, show up on the docks with cash and haggle.  It works the same way for vacations – usually planning ahead will save you money, but if you can be impulsive and flexible, you can get some super great last minute deals (for example, a 10 day South American cruise for 299$ per person is happening right now 😛 – and yes, that is room AND food for 10 days…).

8 days in Bonaire, because we were flexible about the time of year and the days we traveled, ended up being less expensive than two long weekend getaways somewhere in the states.

5. Taking your vacation in larger chunks will save you money.  If you take one two week vacation, vs four long weekends, you’re saving 3 round trip flights (or you can go somewhere four times as cool!).  Booking a condo for a month is sometimes just a little more expensive than a week.  If you have the flexibility, go long!

6. A lot of times, the direct flight option, if there is one, is the cheapest (plus you get there quicker, so its a win win).  Always search for the direct flights and then compare it to the cheapest (and see if it’s not worth spending a few extra dollars to take it to actually be on vacation a little longer).

And being here longer is typically better.

7. Consider the RELATIVE cost.  A cheaper flight leaving a day before means another night at a hotel.  A more expensive hotel room in the city may mean you can use public transport and save on a rental car.  A more expensive hotel room with a free breakfast means less meals out.

8.  A great way to “sample” a new area is to combine 2-4 seperate destinations that are nearby.  Cruises are great because you spend about 8 hours in each port.  Some, you don’t care to return to (Grenada).  Some, you fall in love with and spend a week there (Bonaire).  You can do this on land by hitting up a few different towns in the same region.  For example, we did a weekend in Portland, took a bus and spent a few days on the Oregon Coast, and a quick cheap plane flight took us to the Bay Area before we headed home. It would have been WAY more expensive to do these as three separate trips.

I got to wear a jacket in July and kiss crabs.  The Oregon Coast was surreal!

9.  Leave and come back on Saturday if that’s an option.  It’s usually one of the cheaper days to fly, PLUS you get a full day off to decompress and unpack (if you work a typical schedule).  Tuesday and Wednesday are generally the absolute cheapest but that means you have to split up a week off which can feel like you get less time off.

10. Super broke but still want to get away?  Go camping!  A weekend pass to a campsite is about 30 bucks (for improved camping with power and water).  Even if you have zero gear, you can rent a tent from REI for 40 bucks (or buy a super cheap one but I DO NOT RECOMMEND that – rent or buy a good one, but I covered that here), an air matress is 20 bucks, stuff to light a fire is 10 bucks, and from there, all you need is hot dogs, makings for smores, and a case of cheap beer and you’re set!

Not a bad view from your patio for 20$ a night, hmmm?

It’s easy to talk yourself out of taking a vacation.  The actual TRAVEL part of traveling is a hassle.  Then there’s packing, getting everything everything at home and work taken care of while you’re away… and it costs money, no matter HOW great of a deal you get.  I promise, it’s worth it.  Go forth and vacation (cheaply)!

Page 2 of 5

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén