Next Stop…Sacramento

Leavin on a Jet Plane…to Sacramento today!  This will be my third trip to California this year.  I’ll be interviewing with about 20 tour companies for a position as a Tour Director, along with hundreds of others.  We’ll also get to go on a couple of fun day trips.  Tomorrow is a City tour of Sacramento…followed by a wine tasting in wine country.  On Thursday, I’ll be headed to Yosemite for the day.  I went hiking in Yosemite back in 2006.  I was there by myself touring around California via Amtrak trains and buses.  On the bus ride from Napa to Yosemite, I met a girl from England and she and I hiked together the following day for nine hours…about 14 miles…with lots of elevation changes.  It was harder than hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up…which I did by myself back in 2007.  Here are a couple of photos from that trip:

This career change is exciting but also makes me feel a bit apprehensive/nervous.  Public speaking was never my thing, but I joined Toastmasters back in November and have given two 5 minute speeches already.  I think it takes courage to make big changes once you’re older and I’m proud of myself.  I’m trying to get comfortable with being uncomfortable!

To change the subject…an update on the care packages for the homeless that I made and distributed.  I gave a pack to about 6 of my co-workers and about 10 other family/friends.  So far, I’ve heard that two of them have been distributed to people at street corners.  I’ve given out two of them.  I was stopped at a light and there was a guy holding a sign that said, “Veteran…Need help.”  He saw me rolling my window down and starting walking over with a smile on his face.  When I said I had a care package for him, I could tell it wasn’t what he was expecting, but he thanked me.  A guy came into the office (which is an old home in a semi-residential area) and was looking for donations for the shelter that he stays at…for people with drug/alcohol problems.  He had a printed up card with the name, address and mission of the facility that he handed to me.  I had donated $20 to a guy from the same place, a couple of years ago, who stopped me in a grocery parking lot.  Anyway, I told him about my care package and he accepted it with a “thank you”.  It’s fun to hear about how the others are distributing theirs and I can tell it makes them feel good doing so!

Other than that, I’ve been making lots more recipes from Pinterest and am taking my new work-out clothes (from Christmas) to Sacramento to jog/exercise in while I’m there to keep my body and attitude in good shape!  I’m excited about reading a new book I downloaded to my I-Pad to read on the planes, etc….”The Help”.  I haven’t seen the movie yet and like everyone else, usually enjoy the book better than the movie.

I’ll have lots of photos to post when I return and stories!  Hope everyone has a peaceful, fun and inspired week!


Sausalito and Sonoma

During our two-week training class to become a Tour Director, the 27 of us traveled by motor coach to Sausalito for lunch and onto Sonoma.  Sausalito is known for their houseboat homes.

These are some photos I took…

I love outdoor art sculptures…they’re readily available for everyone to enjoy!

Initially, I thought this bird was part of this sculpture until he moved…

This is Richard in Sonoma where a group of us went in for a quick wine tasting.

Of the wines I sampled, I was impressed with the White Zinfandel…I like dry wines and thought it would be on the sweet side, but it was excellent!  I just don’t remember the name of it.

I’m heading off to Lexington today for the weekend, so I’ll report back next week!

Hope your day is filled with wonder and beauty!!

Kings Canyon National Park, California

During my overnight Tour Director class field trip to Sequoia Nat’l Park, we also stopped at Kings Canyon Nat’l Park, which is geographically right next to Sequoia.  These are some photos from the Park…

This is Frank giving information about the General Grant tree.  The night before at the Montecito Lodge, where we stayed, he played the role of John Muir and was so talented!

This shrub/tree is called the Manzanita and it’s branches are so smooth to touch!  I used my flash and was able to get more contrast.

Hope you enjoyed your tour and if you have any questions, let me know!

Sequoia National Park, California

My ITMI Tour Director class stopped at Sequoia National Park and we walked around for about an hour.  One of our classmates gave his five-minute presentation there (instead of on the motor coach) because his topic was the difference between giant Sequoia trees and Redwood trees.  Loving photography as I do, when we arrived, I’m rushing here and there taking photos of these amazing Sequoia trees.

When it was time for his presentation, he got choked up trying to impart his emotions concerning the magnificence and wonder of these living things.  He made me stop and really think about how blessed we were to be standing there amongst the largest and oldest living things on the planet.  To think that some are approaching 3,000 to 4,000 years of age is simply amazing!

The giant sequoia is the largest tree in the world in volume and has an immense trunk with very slight taper; the redwood is the world’s tallest tree and has a slender trunk.  Sequoias reach around 300 ft. and redwoods up to 364 ft.

The General Sherman tree is the largest living thing on the planet!

It’s fun to learn something new!

Montecito Sequoia Lodge…Sequoia Nat’l Park

My Tour Director class stayed at the Montecito Sequoia Lodge for one night in October.  It’s located in the Sequoia National Park, California.  That evening we had a bonfire and it was magical!  First, one of our classmates’ topics was Sasquatch aka Big Foot, so having her present at night by the campfire was a perfect setting.  She did a great job and then another classmate who is also a singer, sang O Danny Boy.  She’s Irish and has a lovely voice!  I cried (trying not to let others see me)!  To top off the evening, a man named Frank gave a talk about John Muir, playing the character of John Muir.  He spoke for at least 30 minutes and I was amazed at how he could recite and remember so much!

The next morning, I woke as usual before dawn and watched the sun rise.  It was gorgeous!

The lake on the property was perfect for taking reflection shots of the trees and as the sun came out, I was able to capture some breathtaking colors…

We had a hearty breakfast before embarking on our tour of Sequoia and Kings Canyon Nat’l Parks!

San Francisco Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building

We had a free afternoon from our Tour Director classes on Saturday, so I decided to go to the local Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.  Having visited Granville Island in Vancouver and Seattle’s Pike Place Market this summer (you can read about my visits to these farmer’s markets here and here)…I was also impressed with San Fran’s Market!

I love all of the bright colors and they were giving free samples of unusual fruits…like a pluot (a cross between an apricot and a plum).

This reminds me of Bugs Bunny!!

This of Mexico!

This of Europe!

and this of summertime!

I bought a shot of Wheatgrass Juice.  It’s supposed to purify your blood and give you the missing minerals and vitamins that your body needs.

I wish I had gotten a sandwich at the famous “Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie” just outside the farmer’s market.  The porchetta sandwiches are supposed to be out of this world…

Hope your day is filled with color, yummy food and people to love!!

An Hour at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

If you read my previous post, you know that I was in San Francisco for a two-week course to become certified to be a Tour Director.  While on our Motor Coach tour of San Francisco, we stopped at Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch and these are some photos I took…

The weather is gorgeous in San Fran during October…it’s like their summer.  It was sunny and in the 70’s just about every day.  Some people feel like Fisherman’s Wharf is too commercialized and “fake”, but there’s still a beauty to it!

Some of us had lunch at Boudin Bakery…it was yummy…their clam chowder in the famous sour dough bread bowl!

Hope you have a fantastic day/evening!!

San Francisco…Through the Eyes of a Future Tour Guide/Director

Part of our training to become a Tour Guide was conducted on a Motor Coach.  We were given a 25 page packet of information about San Francisco and instructed as homework to read, study and highlight pertinent information to prepare for our 5 minute turn in the hot seat!

So, one day we set out on a pre-planned route of San Francisco, by motor coach, hitting such hot spots as China Town, Ferry Building, Oakland Bay Bridge, Civic Center, Victorian homes, Alamo Square, Japantown, Twin Peaks, Haight Ashbury, Golden Gate Park and Bridge, Presidio, Lombard Street, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

We weren’t allowed to take notes up with us and we didn’t know which area we would have to talk about.  So…it was nerve wrecking!  The day before, we had the same tour, but one of ITMI’s employees “Amy” gave the commentary, to show us how it’s done.  Later that week, we did it once more for our final grade for the first week.  We stopped for restroom breaks/photo ops a few times, so the following are some photos I took:


This is the “Peace Pagoda” located in Japantown, given to San Francisco by the City of Osaka, Japan as a gesture of peace after WWII.

Both of the above photos were taken from Twin Peaks.

The two photos above were taken in the Japanese Tea Gardens.  One of the many things I learned in the past two weeks was that the Fortune Cookie originated with the Japanese (the Hagiwara family) that relocated to San Francisco to live in and take care of these Gardens.

Ladies and Gentlemen…the famous Golden Gate Bridge!!

Crossing over the Bridge…

The ceiling of the famous “Palace Hotel”.

An old lampshade in an Indian restaurant that we liked to go to…

Those of us who took the class most likely know more about San Francisco than residents do!

How to Continue Marathon Training While Out of Town

Keeping up your training and/or exercise while traveling can be a challenge.  Sometimes it’s too expensive to go to a gym, the weather is bad, or it’s hard to stay motivated.  During my recent two-week stay in San Francisco, I would leave the hotel early…usually 6:30am to jog anywhere from five to ten miles, three times a week, before attending class.

My hotel was located in the Union Square area of San Francisco and was about a mile from the Embarcadero…which was the waterfront where the piers were located and it was flat.

There are a lot of homeless people in San Francisco and generally they are rather non-confrontational and quiet.  Occasionally, one of them would say hello to me or vice versa.  A couple of times I would pass one that would be screaming vehemently at a wall or inanimate object.  I feel more connected to San Francisco from these early morning jogs!

The following are photos (not taken while jogging) of places and/or things that I would pass while jogging.

This is a temporary large piece (40 ft.) of art along the Embarcadero, called the “Raygun Gothic Rocketship”.

This is a permanent piece of art, erected in 2003, along the Embarcadero, called “Cupids Span”, inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home port of Eros.

One of the famous cable cars…invented in the late 1800’s.  These were designated the first moving national landmarks in the nation during the 1960’s.  We learned all types of information about San Francisco during our class, so be prepared to hear some trivia!

If you’re committed to your exercise plan, it doesn’t matter where you are!

My first half marathon is this Saturday about 1 1/2 hr. away from my house.  I went and bought some goo (a small packet of carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement substance) to swallow for energy half way through.  Wish me luck!!

Tour Director School in San Francisco

Today is my first day back in Cincinnati from the two-week ITMI class I took in San Francisco, to become a Tour Director.  I go into more detail about what a Tour Director does in my other post entitled “What Makes Me Come Alive“.  I met a lot of very nice and very interesting people.  There were 27 of us taking the course ranging in age from 23 to 60 something.  We had class every day (no time off) and had quite a bit of homework.

For me the hardest part was the public speaking.  You’ve probably heard that there are more people afraid of public speaking than of dying.  We spoke a total of about 5-6 times ranging from a couple of minutes to 5-6 minutes each time.  We weren’t allowed to use notes, so it was difficult.  One of my topics was Black Americans in California.  We were on a motor coach (not a bus) a couple of times and in the classroom the remainder.

The last time I spoke in front of more than 5-10 people was in college in my 20’s and I remember being so nervous and shaken, that I’ve avoided it since.  I’m proud of myself for jumping so far out of my comfort zone!

I learned that it’s O.K. to not be perfect and to try to be myself!  My next step is to join Toastmasters and become really comfortable and well-spoken!  Anyway, here are some of the new friends and people I met…

We went on an overnight trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon Nat’l Parks and here is a photo of the class, along with the instructors!  I’ll have a separate post about these beautiful Parks.


This was in Sonoma…that’s Thyra (pronounced TEAR-RA) and me.  She’s from LA and a very cool and very smart person!!


This is Elise on the left and Daywee on the right.  I didn’t get to know Elise as well, but I really respect Daywee.  She’s got her stuff together and has a very bright future!  She’s from Indonesia and took some of us to an Indonesian Restaurant while we were in San Francisco and it was the best meal of my trip.


This is Lena…she was my roommate.  We were on opposite schedules…I would wake up between 4:30 and 6:00am and would turn just the bathroom light on to get ready in the morning.  Then go down to the lobby to do homework, or jog first.  We were able to make it work and she’s a sweetie and one of the smartest people I’ve met!!


This was taken at Fisherman’s Wharf.  From left to right…Thyra, Claxton (from Texas, former schoolteacher with a dry humor and good guy), Mary (she and I got to know each other on the overnight field trip because we were roommates)…really sweet and smart lady, and Bernard (French…that says it all…very charming and sweet)!!


This was one of the first photos I took…I love it…it’s Elliott (he’s loads of fun) and Sue (who I didn’t get to know as well as some others…but like everyone…very nice and friendly)!!


Here is the “cute couple”…Alyssa and Colton…they are both very smart and warm-hearted!  They’ll both be very successful in life!!


This photo turned out kind of weird, but this is JJ.  A few of us went out for sushi and it was his first time trying this cuisine.  He’s a cutie from Louisiana!


I’ve mentioned everyone that’s in this photo, but Ken (the big dude in the middle).  One of his topics was Sequoia trees and he touched my heart (just like many of the people did on the trip) when he gave his talk!  I’d like to mention everyone, but I only have so much time and space.

I’m looking forward to staying in touch with my classmates!!

California Angels

My first solo trip was to California in 2006′.  I planned my itinerary to spend two nights in each spot…San Francisco…Napa ValleyYosemiteSan Diego.  It was only $125 total to travel by Amtrak trains and buses to each destination.


I had a few hours to explore San Fran when I arrived…so of course I took the famous trolley…went to the pier…walked through China town, etc. etc.  The next morning I was on a tour bus to see John Muir Woods, and needed to throw a coffee cup away.  The bus driver said I could run across the street to a garbage can.  I didn’t even see the car that hit me.  I flew onto the hood of the car, bounced onto the ground and remember thinking my hand and behind hurt.  Immediately I stood up and looked at the driver of the car.  His eyes were bulging with shock and people started flocking around me.  A woman with a cell phone was trying to get me to sit down…I kept saying I was O.K.  Within a couple of minutes an ambulance appeared and they asked who the accident victim was!

After spending four hours in San Fran General…where they wanted to cut my clothes off…no way…I was famished.  I had a taxi driver take me to a restaurant and phoned my husband with the news.  In a distressed voice, he said, “Come home now” to which I replied, “No way, this is the beginning of my trip!”    The only sign that I had been hit was a red mark on my forearm the size of a pea!   I do believe in Angels! Continue reading