Friday, December 17, 2004

It's really hard this time of the year to justify and maintain any kind of fiscal restraint. Fortunately, 98% of my unreasonable purchases have been in my mind only. Is this progress?

I am dreaming of ski vacations. I was thinking Wintergreen, but what the heck! Let's go all out and try Park City or Switzerland. I am also dreaming of beach vacations on white sand and sleeping on the shore so I can hear the waves. Or maybe going to that private island in "The Thomas Crown Affair." Something like that.

What I am doing is figuring out the most economical way to repair my bathrooom walls and replace the worn out tub.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

It's increasingly difficult to justify no vacation. I mean, spending nothing on vacation one year to spend it the next on something truly great. I keep coming up with projects to spend money on, defeating the purpose of no vacation. I also keep finding must do vacations everywhere I go. Like at National Geographic. Wow! Dream tours deluxe!

My sewer pipe just had to be replaced. Fortunately I got mad enough to get three quotes. Underground Services First gave me a great deal and were efficient and nice to boot. A miracle. So that's money I spent that I would rather have not. The good news: I was able to finance with an equity line. The bad news: more debt. In the land of vacations it's either get out of debt or have a vacation. There's nothing in between. Sure, I get paid for time off—three weeks this year. But that's the only part of vacation that's paid for.

Very tempting is to stay home and do home improvement all year. The list is growing. There's the needs: new bathroom walls (old studs are rotted by past leaks from previous owners), floor coverings (removed old, stained, extremely smelly rug and pad from whole house to reveal vinyl asbestos tile that broke up where the floor meets the wall), replace ceiling fan in second bedroom, finish painting and decorating. Then there's the extras: replace medicine cabinet in bathroom, new faucets in kitchen and bathroom, fancy mini-fridge from U-line, create foyer, get all new furniture (doesn't seem like so much when I write it down).

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Here's another exciting installment in the quest to create a plan for the totally great vacation and then to actually achieve it.

I've given up on Tahiti, but if I really didn't go anywhere next year I could, possibly, manage to put aside a little money so that in 2006 I could go there. That might be a plan.

However, I would also like to attend the 2006 Mensa World Gathering. You never know. My true love might be there and looking for me.

Another option is full-on participation in Burning Man 2006 in Black Rock. That gives me over a year to get my costume and art together. My little booth sporting a desert-ready Mac playing my avant garde animated art. It could happen.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

A few things in 2006 might be worth staying home for in 2005: the Mensa World Gathering and working on my house. Aside from that, I feel I must get some sun in February and that means leaving home for at least a weekend. Arrggghh. Why can't I just win the lottery?

Monday, October 11, 2004

I'm considering staying at home in 2005 so I can have a real vacation in 2006. I have no reason not to and I'm tired of cheap, make do jaunts. Not that I'm opposed to camping, I would rather do it in style instead of in frugality.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

On Vacation
Here I am, in Milwaukee. I am relearning such important fuctions as baby calming, child rearing and maternal support services. I also took the leap and changed a diaper. Maybe today I'll see some of the city.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

My last vacation turned into a Buddhist monk production (that noise you hear when the site loads is made by monks singing). I saw the opening ceremony for the "Compassionate Buddha" mandala in Hampton Roads and then went back the next day to see how it was going. Then I visited again to see the closing ceremony and get my share of the sand. I recommend participating when they come to your town. Don't try to ask the monks questions though. They don't speak English. However, translators are available and they will answer your questions. You can also go to the sponsor site, Richard Gere Productions to find out more about this particular venture. To learn more about Buddhism, I recommend

The remainder of the time was spent getting a pedicure with Mom and laying out on the beach. The weather was very cooperative, the jellyfish stayed away and the water was at that rousing temperature that makes it hard to get wet but lovely to stay wet.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

My next vacation will be this weekend and two days next week (Monday and Tuesday) - so four days. Saturday evening I'm attending a friend's Wardrobe Party at Chico's. Then Sunday through Tuesday I'm visiting my mother at the beach.

In September I'll be on vacation again -- going to Milwaukee.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Still nothing new on the vacation front. Since I have no money and my fianances are like trying to hold water in a sieve, I'm not real enthused about spending money. However, I still like having time off and relaxing. I hate writing about it though. I think this blog is doomed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Okay. Big decision and I don't like it. I'll be spending my next vacation, a short one, at the Pocohantas State Park. On the good days I'll be there swimming. On rainy days, I've no idea what I'll do. Read I suppose or rediscover my video library.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Once again the realization has hit me that I do not really think about my next vacation that much. I'm not even thinking about my next vacation after my next vacation very much. I will not be going anywhere. I'm thinking I may just hang out at Pocahantas State Park. They have some lovely amenities that, in the past, I have traveled to enjoy.

If you have a second, maybe you could post about your next vacation.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

No real decision about my next vacation. Mulling over maybe hanging out here in R-town and jumping in the rivah every day. It's quite lovely and Pip may be back in action by then, able to carefully take short walks. Swimming is so low stress - good for the joints.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I'm really blocked about my next vacation. Poor Pip is still recovering from a pulled ligament. I realized on the way home from the beach last weekend that he tends to stand up whenever the air changes or the speed of the car changes. Not good for his "knee." Since there was a traffic snarl I spent a lot of time telling him to lay down. So, taking him out somewhere in August may not be feasible. Even if I do, he may not be able to walk much. My poor walking companion can no longer walk!

Something will occur to me, I'm sure.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I'm sort of on vacation now. I'm at Mom's at the beach. The best place to go for beach updates is the Hampton Roads site. There's eveything! Events, traffic cams, local news, weather. What else do you need?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Still no inspiration for my next vacation. Here's a free desktop from my last vacation, Ocracoke. Well, it's not a picture of Ocracoke. It's a picture from the ferry that runs to Ocaracoke.

Friday, June 11, 2004

I'm not going to Milwaukee in August, I'm going in September or the beginning of October. I've divided what's left into two short vacations. In August I"ll have to find something a little closer to home to jog out to so I can keep cool.

The two worst months of the year are February and August. Both are extremes that arrive at the end of the season when my patience has ended.

Monday, June 07, 2004

My Next Vacation: Milwaukee, Wisconsin in August. Why? One of my sons is returning there with his family after a year in Japan.

Ocracoke - Change Your Pace

Rating: A Return Visit with More Money
Attractions: long beaches with good body surfing waves, whole plentiful shells, service culture, excellent weather, closer than the Bahamas yet isolated
Claim to fame: Home of Blackbeard (pirate), survivors of three major hurricanes, plentiful Blue fish
Things to do: eat, lay on the beach, swim in the ocean, body/board surf or learn how to, bike or walk lazily, join a fishing charter, watch the fishing boats unload the daily catch, become a pirate, count stars, look at the lighthouse, ride the ferry, visit wild horses, observe pelicans and scarlet tanagers, take long deep breaths of salt air, learn the local dialect, fly a really big kite
Amenities: small hotels and inns, rental cottages, campgrounds, personal service, 350 beers from around the world, 10 cent shrimp, fresh fish, charter airline, dog kennel, boutique shopping
Hazards: biting flies, poison ivy, sunburn, high winds, ding-batters
How to get there: drive & ferry, fly, boat
Essential gear: camera, sunscreen, debit/credit card, hat, bathing suit, dog, insect repellent
Last visited: May 22-29, 2004

Thursday, June 03, 2004

My Last Vacation

Ocracoke. My daughter and I camped at Ocracoke Campground, run by the government as part of the Cape Hatteras National Park/Seashore. They were at about one third capacity, which I liked. We got lucky and snagged a dune spot, the last one available, with nothing but a dune between us and the ocean. The dune provided a wind break. The site had a couple of large bushes (or stunted trees) which also gave some shade early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This also gave us some privacy. Altogether, a good site. It was easy to check in and out. The ranger station was closed by the time we arrived at 8 pm. But instructions were easy to follow. The next morning the ranger came out to our site to give us a windshield sticker. No hot showers. We took cold showers late in the afternoon when the air was hot and we could still warm up afterwards.

Just about every day involved doing nothing. This meant lying on the beach, reading a book and figuring out where to have lunch. Most days we found something to do out of the heat between 11 am and 3 pm. A couple of days that was jumping into the ocean. Other days that was eating lunch in an air conditioned dining room or a breezy, shady deck. The ranger station listed water temperature at 76 degrees. It didn't feel that warm, but it was okay. The air temperature varied from 80 to 92. At night the air was between 65 and 72. Nice sleeping weather. It rained once very lightly and another time enough to get the ground wet. It was pretty easy to keep cool. All I needed was shade and a breeze. Both readily available.

The beach is grey sand. Shells are easy to find, whole and big. Forget the low tide thing. Try the north end of the island. The surf is hard and short. One very windy, wavey day three surfers tried to paddle out past the breakers and were pushed about half a mile along the beach before giving up. There wasn't enough calm water for swimming but I enjoyed diving through the waves. I saw a few people body surfing. The most successful had body boards.

My biggest disappointment was finding myself leaving the dog in the car for long periods of time. I chose this vacation with the dog in mind but I didn't actually do a lot of stuff with him besides walking on the beach and running in the waves. Pip's favorite time was the day we went to the north end of the island where there were no waves and little wind. He loved that. He got in the water constantly, had a lot of energy and seemed happy. There's a dog kennel - Sandy Paws Bed and Biscuit. I never left Pip there but it looked inviting. Dogs were everywhere and welcomed by everyone.

The whole island, except for off-island stuff (ATV on Portsmouth, surfing lessons and charter fishing trips), could possibly be done in two days if you pack in your activities back to back. We visited the museum, Teach's Hole (a mini-pirate museum and gift shop), the information center, and the light house on different days. Except for the lighthouse (which took five minutes), I believe you could drag out each visit to maybe two hours if you had to. One visit is all you need.

The lighthouse (which is not open to the public) is next to one of the better places to eat - The Albert Styron Store (ASS to those who know). It's a sort of old country store and gift shop with a deli - Cat Ridge Deli. I don't remember seeing any cats there but the food was excellent. I had the Monday special on Tuesday (Rueben on tomato wrap). It was delicious. Thing to do is order your sandwich and then browse the store.

Another good place to eat is Creekside Cafe. It's the top floor of a house with a balcony overlooking Silver Lake Harbor (the creek). The food was very tasty and the service attentive. We didn't discover this place until our third day. Hard to miss as it's right above the ice cream store and bike rental. Our last night we sat on the balcony drinking wine and watching the sun go down. This is also a good place to sit and watch traffic, whether upstairs with a meal or downstairs in a rocking chair on the porch licking a cone.

For tasty, healthy take-away food try Fig Tree Bakery. Another great wrap place. Kathleen said their Hoummous wrap was the best on the island. They also have Cheer Wine and a few other unusual drinks. I tried the molasses oatmeal cookie. It was chewy and flavorful.

Each morning involved a visit to the Beachcomber Campground and Store. Here I got coffee and milk. I ended up here because they are the only place open at 6 am. We also got ice and sandwiches here for the days we cooled off during the heat of the day by jumping into the ocean. It's a place where the locals go for coffee and breakfast biscuits. There's even a place to sit around and chat, and you can get the obligatory kite and t-shirt, too. The campground advertises hot showers. I don't know if they actually offer sites for camping or if, like Teeter's Campground, they were just a place to park your trailer home.

One off-island excursion we did make was to Pea Island Wildlife Management Area. We took the ferry (free and frequent) back to Hatteras and then drove up the banks. At the information center we bought a $7 CD with a driving tour of Pea Island and Alligator River. The CD said it was a two hour tour, but I believe it took us longer than that. The narration allows for stops along the way, including taking in the history of Manteo. We saw a lot of birds but no bears or alligators even thought the CD warned us not to feed them. On the way back we stopped at the Bodie Island lighthouse. If you go, be there before 5 pm. They close right on time.

I suppose I should mention Howard's Pub. Everyone finds it. It's at the entrance to the village offering about 300 beers and ordinary pub food, much like the stuff you would get at home. The service is excellent, the atmosphere festive.

Would I return to Ocracoke? Not without extra money for off-island excursions and dog kennelling at Sandy Paws. Also, I would go a week earlier than this year (or two or three weeks after Labor Day) to make lying on the beach cooler. I'd also get one of those portable beach cabanas, mostly to get out of the wind. We made a short shelter out of a tarp, mostly for the dog, but it was a bit cramped for long visits. My dream: fly in for a long weekend of lying on the beach.

Coming home from vacation reminded me that I plan my trips to avoid crowds. On Friday afternoon the campsite started filling up and by evening there wasn't an empty site. We were so glad we left the next morning. When I got home Saturday I saw that most of my neighbors were gone - so I had the neighborhood to myself. It was so peaceful!

Now about my next vacation . . .

Friday, May 21, 2004

Found a cool spot for my next vacation: Washington and Old Dominion Trail. "Countless bikers, hikers and horse riders now flock to W&OD where a cathedral of maples, black walnuts and dogwoods now shelter the trail so it cool (sic) on the hottest summer day." according to The Sierra Club. Those are some serious people. So I may hike the trail.

Dream cool spot: skiing somewhere. Australia? New Zealand? Alaska? That would be so lovely in the heat of summer. I have a weird feeling about my next vacation. I can't seem to settle on anything. Part of me is ready to give up and just jump in the river everyday. That's cool! I hope not. I hope I find something amazing to do to keep cool in August.
Last night while doin laundry, Kathleen and I made of list of everything we need, We needed another sleeping bag, tarp and batteries. So we went out and got them at Walmart. What did I do before Walmart? Cursed a lot I think.

I printed out directions to Ocracoke from Rand-McNally. In the past, I have used Mapquest, but then they led me astray on my way to Maine. It's no fun to miss a turn and have to lose 30 minutes getting back on track.

I found good information on activities in and around Ocracoke at a realty site, ocracokeislandrealty. Amazing. I suppose it's to their advantage to let you know about the great stuff so they sell more real estate.

This evening I partially packed the car: a box of stuff like another tarp, shoes, insect repellent; my waist pack with first stuff in it; sleeping bags; tarp; tent; beach bag; chairs. Tomorrow clothes and food and the dog. The dog cover is on the back seat. The doggie harness waits in place.

I'm stopping by Mom's on the way back to have lunch. I was going to borrow her sun umbrella but she only has a small clip on. I almost spent $30 on a gazebo tent last night. I hate to get something I'll only use once.

So, pretty much, except for balancing the checkbook, I'm ready. I'm getting out the camera now so I don't forget it.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Why did I start this? I think about vacation a lot but writing about it is something else. I've just managed to resolve the financing problem, so, technically, I'm ready to go.

However, I still have to test the tent and collect the other camping items and figure out what to do about food. I'l lhave next week. That will be fine. In the meantime, I try not to daydream too much about the lovely beach or get too greedy over possible sea shells on the beach.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Oh, well, here's the exciting thing about a vacation. Paying for it! Fortunately I'll be leaving a week after the payday that doesnt' get sucked away immediately. I may even have some money left over from Kathleen's graduation. Part, but only part, of the reason I camp is financial. I really, really like camping.

I don't feel "ready" for vacation. I'm always ready for time away from work but not ready yet to go. I still have to determine if I want to get up at the crack of dawn to beat the ferry crowds or if I want to take my time and get up late and beat the crowds that way. I vote late. Of course Kathleen has a vote, too.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Here's the camping on Ocracoke Island link. It's very cool that I could make reservations online but it was definitely Federal Government type reservations and not Amazon type reservations.

I'm taking my dog, Pip, so that's an issue. He has to be on a leash and can't go to the swimming beaches but that's okay. There's a lot of beach on this island that isn't designated for swimming. I'm going to check out the off-road-vehicle only section. I'm sure it won't matter if a dog does his thing on that part of the island.

I'm also going to be accompanied by my daughter, Kathleen, who has just kicked ass at William and Mary by defending her Senior Thesis and getting an "A." She's also a lot of fun. We'll do some walking, probably following this suggestion.

I've been to Ocracoke before. If you look at a map, street names are listed. However, in actual reality there are no real functioning street signs. Instead, everywhere you go there are little ads on wood at the street corners that say things like "This way to Howard's Pub" or "English Graveyard this way." Seems to me it would be cheaper to put in street signs but apparently the natives got tired of answering questions that start with "Can you tell me where ..." or "Which way is ..."

Ocracokians like their dogs. Everywhere you go there's a pickup truck with a dog in it, sometimes two.

Of course the main reason I'm going is to lie on the beach in the sun, my favorite pasttime and one not often induldged. I need to move to the beach, for sure.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

My next vacation is coming up soon. It's already planned and partly paid for. I'm camping on the beach, Ocracoke beach.

After that I need to find a cool place to go in August.