A few of my favorite things – 2013 in review

Thanks to all who have been following my blog, commenting on it and actually enjoying it.  I really appreciate your comments.  I mean I really, really do.  I have enjoyed and have been inspired my many of your posts as well.  Thanks again to all who have stopped by and even nominated me for special awards. In honor of the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year I am going to highlight the past year with some of my favorite, favorite photos from 2013.

I left Venezuela in December of 2012 and from Venezuela went and visited my children in Washington State, from Washington, I took a train with my youngest daughter and her son to Chicago and then went on to New York.  After a few weeks in New York I traveled down to DC and on to North Carolina for a week.  After North Carolina I went back to DC and began an 8 month Nepali language course.  During the course I had several old friends visit me in DC.  Some friends were from the military and some were from high school.  I took trips to New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Richmond, VA.  I went to wine tastings and food festivals.  Finally I passed my Nepali test and WOW.. ended up in Kathmandu, Nepal.  Those are the nuts and bolts.

What happened emotionally for me was some beautiful births from family and long-time friends.  My sister got married and the wedding was such a touching and emotional event for me. I can’t adequately describe to you now nor to my sister at the time at how proud of her I was and glad I was to be her sister. I had emotional break downs with my older sister who got me to laughing and re-thinking my state. Man I love that girl.  I was able to meet up with family and friends I haven’t seen for so long and it was like time had never passed.  There was a completely unexpected death of a very amazing young friend that shook me to the core.  I’m still dealing with some of the emotions that came from that. I was able to find a very old and dear friend that meant so much to me for so long and from that I had to come to terms with some truths about life and love.  Letting go and reconnecting, meeting new friends and re-affirming long time friendships. I have spent a lot of time this year coming to terms with who I am and what I’m willing to accept and realizing that there are some serious changes in me that need to take place. There was awe, joy and great satisfaction at people, places and things and personal accomplishments.  There was shock, horror and extreme emotional despair at people, places and things and a new-found understanding of life in general. I put up way too many photos here but there were tons more that could have been used.  No photo can clearly express how I am feeling at this moment of remembering all of these things and right now there are no more words to say.

To all, have a prosperous and happy (focus on happy) New Year. Stay safe.

I hope you enjoy.

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.  ~Edward de Bono

Have a safe and happy new year.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Attractions in 2013

These are the posts that got the most views in 2013. You can see all of the year’s most-viewed posts in your Site Stats.

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2013. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.

Click here to see the complete report.

Travel theme: Bridges

Ailsa from “Where’s My Backpack” travel themes is “bridges” this week and her personal inspiration was the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Click here to see what everyone else has come up with.

SUNDAY POST: On going OR going on

Yes.. another post on trains.  I know that this train obsession of mine has probably become VERY old so I will try to make this my last train blog for awhile.  It just seemed to fit so well with Jake’s challenge: On Going. So for the lat time.. for now.. ALLL ABOOOAARRD!!!!!

Train leaving Spokane in a blizzard.

Train leaving Spokane in a blizzard.

Only a couple more sets of vacation blogs and then it’s back to work… Blog-wise and work-wise.  After leaving Venezuela and spending some time with my family, my youngest daughter, her son and I took Amtrak from Spokane to Chicago.  This portion of the trip involved leaving Spokane about 1:00 a.m., sleeping 2 nights on the train and arriving in Chicago 2 days later.


Due to the fact I don’t get to spend that much time with my kids or grandkids because of my job, this was an amazing opportunity to really spend some quality time.  Eating, sleeping and playing on the train was AWESOME!!

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I can’t speak enough about train rides in regards to really getting to see some beautiful areas and things you would see from a car or a plane.

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At this point my daughter and grand-son would stay the night in Chicago and then go by bus to visit the grandparents in Indiana.  I would stop long enough to eat dinner with them and then hop back on the train where I would spend one more night and then get off in New York.  (This last sentence is a foreshadowing of my next blog’s topic)


I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking the trip.  Cheers.

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Still Traveling

I have been off the charts for a bit and only have time for a quick update.  I left Venezuela on December 16 and am very sad about it.  It was a beautiful country full of great weather, great people from so many countries, and tons of great outdoor activities.

However, I’ve had an amazing time with the kids and grand kids  I spent my first week with my family adjusting to a 30-50 degree temperature drop and got a bit of whatever disease was going around my hometown. (Being a hypochondriac most of my life, I’m sure I was on the brink of total physical and mental failure — needless to say a few antibiotics and some good old-fashioned home-remedies and I’m back on the move and feeling great!!).

We took some family photos from my favorite photographer (Alisha Southard – Haute Pink Photography), played at home and had an all-around good family spending quality time together.  During my time at home I was able to get together with my all too busy sister and meet up with some high school friends as well.  I met up with a junior high friend also and her four-year old son gave me a wash off tattoo of “tater” a character from “Cars”  It was supposed to stay on for about 4 days.  Two weeks later.. well.. I’m beginning to wonder if it might be permanent.  I also had a lucky few minutes as a pirate with the same kid.  AWESOME!!

January 7 my youngest daughter and grandson took off by AMTRAK leaving Spokane at 1:30 a.m. and hitting Chicago at about 3:00 pm on the 8th of January.  My daughter left me in Chicago to go to Indiana to visit grandparents and I continued on to New York.  I’m going to spend a few weeks here visiting friends and family and hoping to get some great photos of my favorite city in the world.

I’m due to hit D.C. in about a month and will once again have a computer. I’m guessing I will have some whirlwind updates at that time.  For now, enjoy the following pics.. and for all my friends.. wish you could have taken the trip with me.  I hope you enjoy.

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chicago skyline tator amtrak games making friends on minnesota stop leaving in a snowstorm

Since the time I sold all of my belongings in Venezuela up until now I have not had a computer, an Ipad or any technological devices that would allow me to post.   I have missed some great themes from the various theme makers I follow and so in an attempt to cheat (New Year’s Resolution is to NOT cheat anymore) I will combine some of my favorite themes that seem to fit my journey.

Travel Themes from “Where’s My Backpack” – “Festive”; “Transportation”

Weekly Photo Challenges from the Daily post – “Resolved”; “Surprise”

Sunday Post by Jake’s Printer – “Christmas”; “New Year”; “Goals” 

The last three weeks have been amazingly full of resolutions and future Goals (don’t cheat, be happier, celebrate one good thing each day and always try to show appreciation for what others are doing for me and random acts of kindness).  I was met with many surprises from physical gifts to surprise visits from high school and junior high friends.  Nearly everything about my trip so far has been a festive delight. Transportation, easy one, 4 days on Amtrak from Spokane, Washington to New York – also a trip very festive and full of surprises AND a resolution to travel by train more often.

I hope you enjoyed my journey so far and look forward to settling down in D.C. for a few months of training. Peace for the new year.

Ameerrrriicca.. Ameeerrrriiicccaa.. God shed his grace on thee

Love your country.  Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him.  ~Giuseppe Mazzini

When I taught English at Hanyang University in Korea one of my favorite assignments was focused on home and country.  I would start the class by asking, “How would you feel if you were told you would not ever be able to come back to your country, to the land of your birth?” I was always a little surprised at the student’s reactions.  Several even indicated that it would not bother them at all.  Those sentiments surprised me a little. I love my international travel for sure and I have chosen jobs that require me to work mostly overseas, but my home and my heart will always be in the United States.

When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea.  He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.  ~Adlai Stevenson

No matter how far and wide I travel, my base, my essential roots will always be in the good ‘ol U.S. of A.  I know the United States has its faults and we as a people have our disagreements but this land is the land that I love.  We have freedoms and responsibilities that do not exist in other parts of the world.  We have the potential to do just about anything we want.  Other’s strive to go to the U.S. simply to start a new life and our country was built on the people from every part of the world who succeeded.

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  ~Abraham Lincoln

My personal philosophy is that one should know as much as possible about their own country either before or after they start touring the world.  I’ve taken that to heart and through chance and circumstance I have been fortunate enough to have been able to travel to or at least through approximately 42 of our beautiful states and 3 of the 5 U.S. territories.  I have lived in Washington State, Washington D.C. Virginia, Indiana and California over the years and loved each state in very different ways.

I have driven around the United States completely one time (from California to Washington to New York to Florida and back to California, it took me 3 weeks and I had my own children and a neighbor’s child with me) and I have made 2 other trips nearly around the U.S.  I have driven from Washington State to New York and back approximately 5 times in my life; from Virginia to Washington and back about 3 times.  I have travelled Route 66 and through the Black Hills in the Dakotas, the Redwood Forest, the Pacific Coast Highway and Glacier National Park. I have travelled across country several times over the past 20 years on Amtrak’s California Zephyr, The Capital Corridor and The Empire Builder.

My favorite thing about the United States?  Lots of Americans, one America.  ~Val Saintsbury

All I am saying is that from these national trips I have grown to love and understand the U.S. and it’s people on a much deeper level.  I have learned acceptance of others ideas and ways of living and a humbleness that comes from being presented with such a grand vista of people and their places each so different from the other.  America the Beautiful – from the mountains to the prairies, from shore to shining shore, this land is my land this land is your land indeed.

My next several blogs will be focused on a photo journal of my most recent coast to coast trip.  I hope you enjoy.