Tag Archives: exploring

Shells & Alice Walker


Yesterday afternoon we were wandering along the shoreline, playing in the surf and happening upon gorgeous shells that were strewn along the shore.  Gorgeous shells just cast about like little gems.  No matter how many times I visit this part of the Gulf Coast – Marco Island and Sanibel Island – I’m always amazed by the shells.  Amazed someone has not already scooped them all up and hauled them away.  Surprised that there are always more.   And thrilled by all of the beauty that you will just stumble upon.


As I woke up this morning and reflected on our experiences yesterday, I was reminded of this poem I love – on what we love and value.   Its a perfectly timed reminder to be present and elevate and focus on what really matters.  Thanks, Ms. Walker.


We Alone Can Devalue Gold – by Alice Walker

We alone can devalue gold

by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.

This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what’s scarce.


Arizona Adventures

What a wonderful little escape to the Southwest!  I had to be in Scottsdale for a conference, andBryce and the boys came along for a little Arizona adventure.  I know how much Bryce loves the southwest from his time at NMMI, and was really glad to get the boys experience a completely different landscape.   I left AZ today grateful for the adventure, but also feeling like I hadn’t done justice to everything that Phoenix and Scottsdale had to offer.  So many more things I would love to explore.  But I suppose that’s just a great reason to return.  Normally this post would be full of gorgeous images … but with my camera inadvertently left at home, I will leave some of this to your imagination.

The Landscape

the landscape was dramatic and gorgeous, and a complete change from autumn on the east coast.  the property was nestled at the foot of Mummy Mountain, looking out toward Camelback Mountain straight ahead.  The wide open spaces make the sky seem so much larger.  And the dramatic shape of the rock formations against that sky were just so beautiful in an exotic and unusual way.


Photo Credit: JW Marriott Camelback Inn

The cactus formations were fun … somehow more than I remember in prior years.  So many quirky and interesting cactus formations.  Sort of like a Rorschach ink blot test … what do you see when you see this cactus?? 🙂

photo 4-1



All around the city there were gorgeous bright desert flowers and bushes dotting the landscape.  Bright fuchsias and oranges – just gorgeous!  I wish I knew their names, will need to look them up next time.


The Property

We stayed at the Camelback Inn, which I love and was glad to return to.  Lots of things to love about the property – but I think my favorite is the way they really value and spotlight the landscape.  The property dates back to the 1930s and has so much character.  The main building has the feeling of a luxurious lodge – is open and spacious, with lots of character: wood beams and carvings,  beautiful Native American artwork.  The rooms are little ‘casitas’ scattered across the property, with beautiful walkways weaving from place to place.

The walking paths around the property wind through the neighborhoods of casitas, surrounded by the beautiful plants and flowers of the desert.  I loved the windings paths … sort of a walking meditation to meander around, not the efficient straight lines we are all accustomed to in the city.  The boys and I  enjoyed some great rides – about an 8 mile hilly circuit up and around Mummy Mountain.  Josh was riding fast and loving git!  For Justin, it was the toughest ride he had ever done – but he loved the adventure, and was ready to go again on the next couple days.



The Art

I love cites that really embrace art and find ways to design it into their urban spaces.  Phoenix and Scottsdale do that so well- tucking little touches of art and beauty all around the city!  From the sculptures that we saw all around the city, to the Phoenix mural project, the western charm of old town Scottsdale, and even artistic touches along streets and highways.

We visited the Heard Museum and spent so much time exploring their Mercado Del Las Artes that we hardly saw the museum at all!   We also missed the Museum of the West so that’s definitely on the return trip itinerary.    So much history to explore that I am sorry we missed it this trip.





The Hospitality

Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport declared itself the Friendliest Airport – and we agree!  I cannot say enough about the phenomenal service we received.


Just one of several examples:  an airport employee headed to a meeting (not someone we would typically think of as customer-facing), dropped what she was doing for not less than 10 minutes to find us a wheelchair for Bryce and guide us through the very long construction walkway twists and turns to the proper terminal, not leaving us until we were in the hands of a ticketing agent.  She was friendly and cheerful and helpful –  and didn’t think twice about changing her plans of the moment to make sure that we had a great experience.  And the same was true for almost all of our encounters this trip.

Excited to get back to the Southwest next year sometime with the family for a more extended visit.  (with my camera this time!)

Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze

I’m a sucker for good old-fashioned, electronics-free fun!  So what could be better than an afternoon at a local farm

  • exploring the pumpkin patches,
  • getting lost in the corn maze,
  • wandering through the field of sunflowers,
  • taking a hay ride on the tractor around the farm
  • eating apple cider donuts, and
  • watching the kids come up with simple and silly games involving hay bales and dried ears of corn.

Triple the fun by visiting your local farm with a couple other families because the more the merrier!  (Plus –  I wouldn’t dare venture into a corn maze alone … bit of a scaredy cat!) 🙂

Here are a few pics from our weekend adventure at Cullipher Farms here in Virginia Beach.

Best buddies on the top of the world – making it rain corn!
love the dots of orange all across the pumpkin patch
they made a track out of hay bales – which they were our size
they even had a sunflower maze!
one of the sites from our hayride
added bonus – got to spend a beautiful fall afternoon with a couple of my favorite gals!

inhale … exhale …

Sometimes people in our lives can throw us an unpleasant curve ball.  They can surprise and frustrate us.  This is a reminder for those moments.

(Or you can just belt out Let it Go from the Frozen soundtrack … in my case, you really don’t want to hear me sing.)  This is safer.

Just follow your breath.


Beneath Your Feet – Exploration Pics

Which of your photos capture you at your most relaxed, the relaxation or exploration shots?  Well that’s what I went to explore today …

Stumbled upon a photography prompt this week to post a picture of the ground ‘beneath your feet’ – or any variation on that idea that might inspire us.  I was noodling through my pics and remembered several pics that I had taken – out on a hike, on a kayak, by the lake, that all had my toes peeking onto the bottom of the picture.  Bit of a trend, seemed funny at the time.  But as I think about it … every one of those are me in anti-work mode.  I am out and about, wandering and exploring.  Or relaxing with my feet up (and that’s so rare a picture is required as proof!) 🙂   I guess, in a tiny way, for me the pics celebrate getting out of my head (and work mode) and enjoying the physical world.  All great memories!

And apparently I have no in-betweens … its boots or barefoot!

Enjoy other great fotos from the Beneath Your Feet challenge at: Link

…before they close forever …

Quote from Anthony Doerr, from the novel All The Light We Cannot See

My friends and family all know how much I love to travel.  To explore, to discover new things, to have adventures, and to share what I pick up along the way with others!  I just can’t get enough of it.  On the flight home from New Orleans I read the quote above: “Open your eyes and see all you can, before they close forever.”   And that’s it in the end – we are gifted with just a finite amount of time on this earth, and I can only hope to see, hear and experience life richly and to make an impact with the gifts and time I am given.

Sometimes we read things that just strike a chord with what’s on our mind or our heart.  Today this was it for me.   Find beauty.  Connect deeply.  Make an impact.  Love life.

Summer Vacation – NOLA Satchmo Summerfest

There always seems to be a great festival or concert going on in New Orleans, and this trip was no exception – it was the weekend of the Satchmo Summerfest.  And the great musical traditions of Louis Armstrong live on in his hometown!  The event featured many different traditional jazz and brass bands playing on the grounds of the Old U.S. Mint just off the French Market.

We saw some great bands – my favorite was the Paulin Brothers Jazz Band.  I loved the stories they told about growing up in New Orleans in a musical family and how much jazz music was a part of their life.  Forgot to take a video – but here’s a YouTube clip of them:

Between performances, the NOLA Jitterbugs taught dance lessons, and encouraged the crowd to dance during the performances – which they did.  It was as much fun to watch the dancers as to hear the terrific music 🙂   Something about swing dancing just makes me smile – it seems so happy and so free.  There was a dad out there teaching his little girls to dance, couples of all ages sowing off their great dance moves, and some colorful characters too!

We were loving the great dance moves!

Fun afternoon in NOLA!

Creativity! Stumbled onto the Richmond Murals

With a couple free hours in Richmond, I went out exploring with my camera.  We were staying at the gorgeous Jefferson Hotel in Downtown Richmond, so I wandered toward and along Broad Street for a bit.  And what a treat!

Block after block of terrific murals, a great little boutique with original dresses designed by some VCU design students, and lots of quirky shops and independent local restaurants.   It was a terrific little afternoon walk.  Between the terrific food, great museums, and other sights  we left Richmond feeling like we had ignored it far too long and would be back again very soon.

I love a city that really embraces creativity!  (Need to get back to find the rest of the murals.)

Check out this link to the 2014 Richmond Mural Project: