Top Baby Boomer Travel Blog 2015 Awards

And the winners are… pause for breath-holding… pause for envelope opening …

Well, actually there are 20 winners.  But I am beyond excited to be named one of FlipKey’s Top Baby Boomer Travel Blogs to follow in 2015.  There are some well-seasoned travelers and heavy-hitter bloggers in the mix.  And now me and Just a Backpack and a Rollie.

I’ll take it!

And hubs and I will keep on dragging our backpacks and rollies and sharing our adventures with you throughout 2015.  I’ve been busy applying for house sitting gigs all along the west coast from Canada to Mexico.  And we have some very interesting gigs in the works.

So please click on through to the wonderful post on the FlipKey blog and check out our fellow boomer travel bloggers.  They are all truly an inspiration to me.

And here is our little Award.  She’s not a gold statue, but I think she’s pretty cute.

A Little Red Wagon ~

I was a deprived child.  I did not have a little red wagon of my own.  I did, however, have shiny metal roller skates with a key.

So I guess that makes up for it.

I don’t know if the two grown-up kids in this video were wagon deprived in their youth or not, but to me they are two shining examples that there is still a little “kid” in each of us no matter how grey hair our hair or how many wrinkles crease our cheeks.

Whatever you do today, let the child in you come out to play.  Because it really is the simple things in life that bring us joy.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Traveling with our Taste buds ~

We love to travel.  We love to eat.  And these days we’re really into walking as a way to discover interesting places to eat. I call it traveling with our taste buds. It’s my theory that if I walk for food, I can pretty much eat whatever I want and not gain (too much) weight.

From farmers markets to cooking classes to sidewalk bistros and street carts, hubs and I have eaten our way across Portland, much of the U.S. and now we’re working on eating our way across the globe.  One tasty bite at a time.

Jamon - a staple in Spain

Jamon – a staple in Spain

A pop-up sidewalk bar just when you need one.

A pop-up sidewalk bar just when you need one.

Learning to cook Oaxacan style.

Learning to cook Oaxacan style.

Walking through a market is a must stop in a new city.

A farmer’s market is a great place to stroll (and sample) in any city.

Always try the local delicacies...at least once.

Always try the local delicacies…at least once.

Buys your tortillas by the kilo - fresh, hot and muy sabrosa

Buy your tortillas by the kilo – fresh, hot and muy sabrosa

Try it...even if you aren't sure what it is.

Be adventurous. Try it…even if you aren’t sure what it is.

We’ve got a lot of traveling ahead of us and a lot of great tastes to explore.  I’m sure some of them will be more interesting than delicious.  Let’s just say that my taste buds have a long way to go before I can truly call myself an adventurous eater.  I’m working on it.  What’s the most interesting food you’ve eaten in your travels?

Bon Appetit!

Nancy

Tales from the Columbia Gorge ~

Last weekend hubs and I met up with 600+ fellow walking enthusiasts and set out to explore some of the most gorgeous trails in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.  As I was planning today’s blog post thought it might be fun to share few tales from the Columbia Gorge…

The weather gods were on our side.

The clouds parted, the rain stopped and just when we needed it, the sun appeared.  But not too much.  A little light cloud cover kept us from melting as we officially kicked off our walking season and our first multi-day Volksport walking adventure – the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic.  And what an event it was!  These folks have their planning honed to a science.  Thirteen walks, one bike ride, lots of great information, a hot dog lunch and a dinner cruise on the Sternwheeler.  There was truly something for everyone and the little town of Cascade Locks was packed to capacity.  We opted for a room at the Skamania Lodge on the Washington side of the river which added daily crossings of the Bridge of the Gods to our weekend adventure.  Hubs and I met up with other walking friends at Skamania on Friday afternoon and set out on our first walk – an easy stroll into the town of Stevenson for a close up look at the wind and kite surfers.  This area of the gorge is the windsurfing capital of the world and when you stand on the end of a pier in 25+ mile an hour winds and watch these dare devils fly across the choppy water, you see why.

There is always something interesting going on at Skamania Lodge and Friday evening we sat out on the lawn in Adirondack chairs, glasses of a tasty chilled Spanish white in hand and enjoyed a fascinating birds of prey show (so up close and personal that one flew over my head and riffled my hair).

Skamania Lodge - always something going on

Skamania Lodge – always something going on

 

Saturday morning was our big walking day and we chose to hike the Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls loop.  Rated a 3B by AVA.  We had no idea what 3B meant but hubs figured it was moderate as the walks range from 1A to 5C.  Let me say right here that moderate has taken on a whole new meaning!  It started innocently enough.  A little uphill climb to the stunning bridge view just below Multnomah Falls.

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Then up, and up some more for 11 marked zig-zags.  Hearts pumping, thighs screaming No! we went up a little more…and then a little more.columbiagorgewalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we’re on standing on a ledge looking down on the falls.  But wait, there’s more. We left the paved trail and then the packed dirt trail behind and continued up on a very narrow trail composed of tiny jagged granite.  One side dropped 1000 feet and the other side went straight up and I’m clutching ferns for balance.  And stopping to take photos (and catch my breath).  We walked through ancient growth forests, past cascading waterfalls, forded a few streams and were totally awe-struck at the magnificence of Mother Nature.

columbiagorgewalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we started down.  And down.  And it was just as hard as the up.  I saw my life flash in front of me for a brief moment when my feet lost traction on some slippery rocks and I started to slide, but I clutched a branch and all was saved.

columbiagorgewalk4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost back to civilization.

Almost back to civilization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We slowly wound our way back down to the Old Columbia River Highway where we had started our trek 3 1/2 hours earlier.  It was mid-day at Multnomah Falls, one of the region’s biggest natural attractions and on this beautiful first weekend of summer, the place was packed with tourists so we limped to the car as fast as our wobbly old legs would go and headed back to the hot tubs at Skamania.

Ahhhhhh.

Ahhhhhh.

 

 

 

 

That evening, we celebrated hubs’ birthday one more time with a delicious dinner and some of the tastiest cheap wine I’ve had in a long time at a hidden gem of a restaurant, Henni’s Kitchen and Bar, tucked away about 30 minutes further up the gorge in White Salmon.  We enjoyed a specatular sunset drive along the might Columbia arriving at our “home” in time for a nightcap and an early visit with our comfortable beds.

I’d like to tell you that we hiked again on Sunday, but I can’t.  My butt muscles hurt, my quads hurt, my calves were like two sticks and nothing more than a short stroll to loosen things up was going to happen on the walking front. A rousing game on the hotel’s 18 hold putting course and a leisurely drive home completed our weekend walking adventure in the Columbia Gorge.

We picked up lots of brochures for upcoming Volkswalks all over the world.  We’ll be trying a few up near Port Townsend Washington soon.  We love exploring the world at 3 miles per hour.

See you on the trail.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Bird’s Eye View ~

A bird’s eye view ~ More adventures in house sitting on a vineyard. bird's eye view golden finch

They flitted in and out claiming their time at the bird feeder hanging just outside the big kitchen window.  Some politely took their turn, others muscled their way right in, while a few hovered on the railing below waiting for a break in the action.

Early each morning and late into the evening I perched myself on a stool by the window to watch the show.  They came by the dozens.  Swirling flashes of color – bright lemon yellow, fire-ball orange against midnight black, soft dove grey and warm mottled brown – each a beauty in its own way.  These were the birds who enchanted and entertained me for ten days.

I learned a thing or two from my new feathered friends.  And of course I took a few photos.

bird's eye view morning dove bird's eye view yellow songbirds bird's eye view of a finch in the rain bird's eye view  bird on the rail bird's eye view Spending my time with the birds was a whole lot more entertaining and enlightening than any program on the television.  That I know for sure.

Cheers!

Nancy

Rock on Older Ladies

Rock on Older Ladies!

When I saw this video I knew I had to share it on the blog.  Enjoy!

Hubs and I are lacing up our walking shoes and heading out to the Columbia Gorge for a birthday weekend celebration and lots of walking at the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic Volkswalk event  at Cascade Locks.  With 600+ walkers from all over the world, 13 different walks and 1 bike ride, plus fun social events, and lots of new people to meet I know it’s going to be a great time.  Now all we need is some sun.

Enjoy this toe-tapping tune and share it with women everywhere!

Cheers to weekend adventures and older women.

Rock on.

Nancy

Smitten with Chickens ~

Yep.  After a week on the farm, I am officially smitten with chickens.

chicken4

Especially the five ladies I’ve taken under my wing (so to speak) for this house sitting adventure.  I had no idea what beautiful, smart and delightfully entertaining creatures chickens are.  They are feathered comediennes and you can’t help but smile when you interact with them.

I’ve been getting to know “the girls” for several days now.  Each has a unique personality. They are very social and quite talkative.  I am totally gaga over these feathered beauties.  Last night I sat in the grass and tried my hand (with moderate success) at chicken portraiture.  chickens in the vineyard

Every evening I let them out of the chicken pen to wander freely around the lawn and into the edge of the vineyard.  They are lined up and waiting by 5:00 p.m. calling me to hop to it and open the damn gate already.  They make a break and their first stop is usually a nice dirt bath.

DSCN3884

Around dusk I head out to wrangle everyone back into the coop for the night.  My secret weapon is a big bag of Happy Hen Treats aka dried mealworms.  A few hardy shakes of the bag and the girls come running.  They are a sight to behold! DSCN3883 chickens2 chickenbutts2 Spending time with these feathered lovelies has been one of the highlights of this house sit. You never know what adventures life has in store. I am so glad I said yes to this opportunity.

Cheers from the vineyard,

Nancy

 

 

 

House Sitting in The Country ~

I am currently enjoying the best house sitting assignment ever – on a vineyard overlooking a beautiful valley right in the heart of Oregon wine (and farm) country.  On a clear day, you truly can see forever.

For ten days of chicken wrangling, bird feeding, garden watering and loving-up a grey-haired-handsome-boy-kitty named Winston, I am living la pura vida in the hills of Dundee.  I am also learning the ins and outs of rural living.  And, in case you were wondering, life is pretty good out here in the country.  And just a little bit different than this city gal is used to. Not a Starbucks in sight, but the wine is top notch!

The only downside so far?  The Green Acres theme song keeps playing in my head.

And now you are humming it too.  You’re welcome!

I don’t know if the country life is the life for me, but I am savoring every moment of my country adventure.  Here are a few snaps I took the other day.

You know you are in the country when…

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Making hay while the sun shines.  You've gotta be quick in Oregon

Making hay while the sun shines. You’ve gotta be quick in Oregon

 

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard...

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard…

Never seen this in the city.

Never seen this in the city.

farmcountry5

Call now before the sign is covered in weeds.

Yes indeed!

Yes indeed!

And my personal favorite ~

Farmer humor

Farmer humor

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Cheers!

Create Your Roving Retirement – Part 2: Cheap Sleeps

Retirement travel doesn’t have to mean package tours, luxury cruises or high dollar hotels.  In fact, it’s my experience that if you live more like a local and less like a tourist, you can save a lot of money and have a much richer experience.  Here are a few great ways to stretch your travel dollar that I’ve mentioned before and are worth exploring.

Live Like a Local – Sleep Here

Somewhere in Spain...Nancy Slept Here

Somewhere in Spain…Nancy Slept Here

Housing will probably be your biggest travel expense.  These unique options will not only save a lot of money, but allow you to really connect with a location:

WWOOFING –   World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  Volunteers trade farm duties for room and board. Accommodations are simple and the work can be hard at times, but if the chance to harvest grapes in Italy, learn how to make goat cheese in France, or get your hands dirty on an organic herb garden in New Zealand appeals to you, then WWOOFING is the way to go.   A surprising number of people in their 50’s, 60‘s, and beyond are signing up.  www.wwoofusa.org

Chicken wrangling...how hard can it be?

Chicken wrangling…how hard can it be?

 

Hosteling –  If you were that backpacking twenty-something, you probably remember hostels as cheap, dorm-style rooms with bunk beds and rented sheets, a bath down the hall and a party-hardy crowd.  Not a gray hair in sight.  They weren’t called youth hostels for nothing.   Much has changed.  Today more than 15% of hostelers are over 50 and the number is growing.  Now offering private rooms with baths, online booking, fresh and free linens and more, today’s hostels are catering to the mature traveler on a budget. Two things about hosteling have not changed – they are still inexpensive and a wonderful way to meet other travelers.   www.hihostels.com

Workamping –  For some folks, hitting the road in a motorhome is at the top of their retirement wish list.  But, it’s not as cheap as you might think.  When you budget for gas and campground fees, you could pay more to park you RV than you would for a moderately priced hotel room.   One unique and fun way to make your RV travel more affordable is by becoming a workamper.  Through online sites like Workamper (www.workamper.com) and Camp Host (www.camphost.org), travelers can find and apply for thousands of seasonal and year round jobs.  Many RVers work during the summer season as camp hosts, collecting  fees from campers, directing them to available sites, answering questions and watching for problems.  In return they receive a free campsite and often a small stipend.

House Sitting – Short and long time house sitting opportunities are available worldwide through online sites like House Carers (www.housecarers.com) and Trusted House Sitters (www.trustedhousesitters.com).  Most house sitting jobs involve some form of pet care and modest home maintenance like watering the plants and bringing in the mail.  Homeowners feel secure that their home is occupied and taken care of in their absence.  You get a great place to stay for free and the chance to live like a local.  Win-Win.

Remember, your first gig doesn’t have to be half way around the world.  Dip your toes into the shallow water before you make the plunge by starting closer to home.   If “Green Acres is the place for you”, why not spend a weekend getting dirt under your fingernails and sore muscles on a local farm?  If you think professional house sitting might be the way to travel, then offer your services to friends and family in the U.S.   You’ll gain valuable references and get a chance to see how comfortable you really are sleeping in a strange bed and picking up Fido’s poop.

What’s your favorite way to travel on the cheap?  We’d love to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Leave us a comment.

See you on the road!

Nancy

 

Create Your Roving Retirement … Five Fun Ways to Kickstart Your Dream

“Listen to the Musn’t’s child, Listen to the Don’t’s. Listen to the Shouldn’t’s, the Impossibles, the Won’t’s. Listen to the Never Haves, then Listen close to me. ANYthing can happen, child, ANYthing can Be.”
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999);Poet, Songwriter, Musician

Maybe you were one of those 20 year old free spirits who stuffed everything they could into an over-sized backpack and set out to see the world before you settled down.  Or maybe, like most of us, you only dreamed about that kind of travel and then stepped straight onto the well-worn path already laid out for you – work, marriage, kids.   Your travel dream was put on the shelf and after a few years, the backpack went to the Goodwill.  A big trip became a week at Disney World.   It’s funny how that happens.

But those dreams never fully go away do they?  Like long lost friends, they lurk quietly in the back of our minds only to pop up as fanciful daydreams while we’re slogging through a mind-numbing day in the office or waiting in the carpool line.

What I know for sure is that for many of us, somewhere around 50 is when those old dreams start to re-surface in earnest.  Gone for a while, but not forgotten.  That travel gypsy is still alive and well.  A little older, a lot wiser, and eager to explore the world.

Don’t worry, there’s still time.

A growing number of people are becoming vagabond retirees.  People in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s are packing up their new, high-tech backpacks and heading out to become citizens of the world.

Want to join them?  It’s easy.  And it doesn’t have to blow your hard-earned retirement nest egg either.

Traveling on a retiree budget does require thinking outside the box, lots of research, some advance planning, a sense of adventure and a willingness to be flexible.

Don’t wait until you are officially retired to set your travel dreams in motion.  Include them in your planning now.  Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

1.  Create a Travel Dream Board.  It might sound hokey, but it’s fun, it’s easy and it works!  Buy a large piece of posterboard, gather up lots of magazines, travel brochures, old photos, scissors and a glue stick.  It’s as simple as cutting out pictures and pasting them onto the board.  Don’t over-think this.  Cut out everything that catches your eye – beach sunsets, different cultures, village life, bustling cities, historical settings or mountain views.  Can you see yourself in the picture?  Then it belongs on your board.  I call this visual goal setting.

2.  Make a Wish List.   Use the images on your Dream Board to create a Wish List.  Here’s where you get more specific.  What are your must haves for a travel or retirement living destination?  Sleepy village or bustling city?  Beach or mountains?  Easy access or remote?  The options are endless, but honing this list to your top 5 or 6 must haves will give you a great jumping off point for your initial research.

3.  Do Your Research.  Whether you need resources for small hotels or hostels while backpacking through Central America, house swaps in France, or which visas are required for a trek across Tibet, it’s all available on the internet.  Find out where the best airports are, what ground transportation is cheap and easy, who speaks English, what the local currency is.

4.  Become an Arm Chair Traveler.  Read and use the country and city travel guides from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.  Check out books from your local library.  Reading about the adventures of buying and fixing up a run down farm in Portugal, living the gypsy life on a boat in the Caribbean, or women walking all 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, is very inspiring and educational.

5.  Get Connected.   Find and connect with the folks who are blazing the trail ahead of you.  Ask questions and get the scoop from people who have been there, done that.  It’s helpful to know the good, the bad, and the “never again” about a place before you go.  Start reading travel blogs.  Many are filled with first hand information, great personal stories and links to more resources.

I hope these ideas give you a good starting point.  I have LOTS more information and some great ideas and resources that I’ve learned from all my research that I’ll be sharing in future posts so stay tuned.  There is so much inspiration and adventure to be found in the planning process.  Let’s get going! bridge

See you on the road,

Nancy