I did it!

Last night I gave an hour-long presentation on a trip I took to Egypt and Jordan back in 2009, to a Travel Meetup club I belong to!  Although I was a member of Toastmasters for a while and gave a few five-minute speeches, this was a great accomplishment for me.  I wasn’t that nervous and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  It probably helped that there were only 9 people there…but for me it was a great feeling!  My Powerpoint presentation had 120 photographs that were shot with a point and shoot, but I recently bought Lightroom 5, so I doctored them up some.  Now I can’t wait to give presentations on my other epic trips…Peru…SE Asia…and Africa!

To avoid the worst of traffic, I left my house early to drive to Covington, Kentucky, where the event was held, so I had some extra time and decided to practice my photography.  These two photographs are of the Cincinnati skyline at sunset.

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Here I am in the venue before the presentation.  I love the architectural elements of the building…the high ceilings, beautiful woodwork, and large windows.

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When you face your fears, anything is possible!

 

Do we really want to see the sunset?

The 18 days I traveled through Egypt and Jordan with GAP Adventures in 2009, were filled with adventure, excitement and wonder.

Our group of 14 people from across the globe, typically traveled by private van, but we did take a night train from Cairo to Aswan.  Here is a map of our route…

This photo is of the back of the Citadel, which was originally built during the 12th Century to be a fortification…a wall surrounding Cairo, but was never completed.  It is now a preserved historic site, with mosques and museums.

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We wandered through the Khan Al Khalili bazaar.   It was an endless maze of sidewalks filled with little shops, selling clothing, jewelry, anything you could think of.  It was so colorful and intriguing!

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There had been a bombing one month prior to my arrival…a French girl died and others were wounded.  Of course my family thought it would be too dangerous to visit…

Our hotel at Mt. Sinai was very nice and the pool looked inviting…but it was too cold to swim.   I think the scenery was so simply stark and beautiful!

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I was so happy to be able to climb to the top of Mt. Sinai.  For those of you who don’t remember the significance of this area.  According to the Bible, it is where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.

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It took about 3 hours to reach the top and it was timed so that we could see the sunset.  The temperature change was amazing.  By the time we reached the summit, it was freezing.   We waited about 15-20 minutes to witness the sunset…with my teeth chattering uncontrollably…I’m asking…do we really want to see the sunset??  It was pretty…but we then ran down the mountain, partially in the dark, in about 30 minutes.

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 I loved this Greek Orthodox Chapel at the top.

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The following photo is St. Catherine’s Monastery, which was built in the 6th century and is the oldest continuously functioning Christian monastery in existence. It is built on the site of the original burning bush.

Cats were everywhere!

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Our last stop was  Nuweiba, Egypt before boarding the ferry to cross the Gulf of Aquaba to Jordan…this was the beach area where our hotel was located…it was eerily deserted!

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This little girl was selling jewelry on the beach…but only five people were on the entire beach!  We couldn’t speak to each other, but you don’t always need words to communicate.  I took her hands and swung her around and around…and we laughed!

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Next we’ll explore Indiana Jones’ territory…

Map My Run

I usually jog 4-5 times per week.  This is the first winter I’ve chosen to jog outside.  The weather has been mild, so it’s easier.  I can’t seem to get motivated to jog on the treadmill anymore.  I love the variety of things to look at outside…the houses, people, businesses, and nature.  It’s fun jogging on new streets and finding your way back.  Different memories are stirred up from the smells I encounter…the smell coming from people’s dryer vents…or food cooking.  People smile at me or wave and it’s nice to interact.

I found this neat website…”Map My Run” that you can map out your route ahead of time or like me, after you’ve jogged it.  It keeps track of your mileage and the dates you work out.  It even shows the elevation changes.  I’m so thankful that I enjoy working out… because it makes me feel good, makes me look good and keeps me healthy!  Every time I put my jogging pants on…they have the inscription…”Just Do It” on the inside seam and I think…I Am!

I ran my first half marathon on Halloween and still can’t believe it sometimes.  Here I am, in my 50’s and I can run farther than at any other time in my life!

“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.”
John Bingham, running speaker and writer

A Toast to Toastmasters!

 

After attending the two-week Tour Director school in San Francisco in October, I realized that I needed to become more comfortable with public speaking.  I’ve been to three Toastmaster‘s meetings and just joined tonight.  I’ve given a 1 minute speech at each of the three meetings on topics that we’re given right then to speak about.

You also take on leadership roles to run the meeting which is a great way to get comfortable with leading.  I usually don’t have a problem being bossy…so hopefully this will come easy also!

I signed up for my first five-minute speech about myself in December.  It is becoming easier each time and I feel proud of myself for taking the steps necessary to grow in this area!

If you had asked me just two years ago if I would be doing public speaking, I would have said, “No way”!

One new quote I heard recently that I will incorporate into my speech will be: Your Attitude & Your Choices = Your Life!

My Half Marathon in Clayton, Ohio

After some ibuprofen, a hot shower, and a nap, I’m beginning to feel better since jogging my half marathon today!  Normally, I don’t get sore after a long jog (the longest before this was 10 miles last weekend), but since it was only 35 degrees this morning, I’m assuming that is why it affected me differently… anyways…it was an experience and I’m glad I did it.

It’s kind of like childbirth, I remember I was wishing it was over a number of times, but looking back, it seemed to go rather quickly.  I finished in 2 hrs. 15 minutes, which is the time I predicted, since I normally jog 10 minute miles.

For breakfast, I had whole grain cereal with banana and almond milk, and water.  We drove an hour and 10 minutes from a suburb of Cincinnati to Clayton for the race.  There was one in town last weekend, but I was out-of-town and there is one this coming weekend, but I’ll be out-of-town again.

This is me pre-race…

My husband took photos of me and although he has many talents/strengths, photography is not one of them.  These are the best of the many he took…most of them are blurry.  But, I’m not complaining, I was thankful he came to cheer me on!  I’m fourth from the left in the photo below.  I think there were about 200 people total.  I’ll get the results sometime in the next couple of days.

We started about a minute later.

The terrain was beautiful, rolling roads through rural Ohio with pretty trees and farms along the way.  When I would get caught up in my head thinking… analyzing…etc., I would look around and be in the moment, thinking I love the feel of the sun warming me (a bit) and thankful that I am able to run (so many people can’t because of being out of shape, past injuries, or worse)!   I bought some goo to eat once (at mile 10) for energy.  It tastes like chocolate icing.  Some people don’t like to take it because of the texture, but it did seem to give me a boost.

The girl next to me in the photo below was beside me for the last 1/2 mile and I told her we could help each other go faster.  Anyway, she started to pass me right before the finish line, so I amped it up…that’s why we’re laughing!

Right afterward, I could barely breathe or walk.  I’m glad I didn’t stop running the entire time, except for 30 seconds to eat the goo, or I might not have been able to start again!

After stretching some, below is my celebratory photo!  Tonight, we’re going to a Halloween party, so a few drinks should loosen me up a bit more!  Happy Halloween to everyone and to all a GOOD NIGHT!!

Lodge to Lodge Hiking on the Appalachian Trail – Day Three

There was a 50% chance of thunderstorms today, so we were prepared.  We left Skyland a few minutes after 8:00am, after having a big breakfast and began our almost 10 mile hike to the car parked at Thornton Gap.

The trail was well marked and we never got lost.  Like yesterday’s hike, we ran into a few other hikers, but not many.  I had researched the pattern for thru-hikers and verified that most of them had already been through this section of the trail about a month earlier, on their way to Maine.

 

Luckily, it only sprinkled once for about 2 minutes and the clouds kept the temperature in the 80’s, although it was quite humid.

 

 

The longest hike Cindy had taken before this had been about 5 miles.  She was concerned about hiking 17 miles in two days, but she did a great job!  We only took a couple of breaks (other than when taking photos) and kept a good pace.  I love to see people challenge themselves and realize that they’re capable of doing more than they thought originally!

 

 

One-third to One-half of the trail on today’s hike was rocks…like below.  The shuttle guy, Rodney, calls them “ankle busters”!  They made the hike more difficult, not only physically, but mentally.

 

 

There were a lot of flowers on the trail.  I discovered that when my flash went off, the background was darkened, which really made the flower pop!

 

 

 

 

These look like the kind of berries that bears like.  Luckily, we didn’t run into any… we only saw some bear poop on the trail…but it didn’t look fresh!

 

 

Cindy nicknamed this rock “Plumber’s Rock”…

 

 

After researching the area, I had reserved a room at the historic “Mimslyn Inn” in Luray, Virginia.  It’s located within a 15 minute drive from Thornton Gap (where our car was parked) and has a pool and hot tub.  As soon as we checked in, we took a shower, poured a margarita and went out to the hot tub.  Our calves were sore and it felt great.  The pool was the perfect temperature also.  After relaxing for a bit, we were starving because for lunch we had only eaten an apple and a granola bar, so we went upstairs to shower and made our way to the “Speakeasy Lounge” for dinner.  We both had a tenderloin wrap.  The wrap was made with spinach…yum…yum!

 

 

 

 

I drove us to find some “White Lightning” (kind of like moon shine) and a blackberry syrup, so we could recreate the blackberry moonshine slushie drink we’d had at Skyland Resort.  After returning, we took a few photos of the lovely grounds at the Mimslyn.  They have weddings here and it is lovely!

 

Lovely Cindy!!

 

 

We’re both glad we had the opportunity to do this and look forward to the next adventure!

10 Reasons to Travel Solo

 

Solo Trip to California

Many people don’t feel comfortable traveling solo.   Usually the fears of being lonely, unsafe, and vulnerable are factors.   Some of the reasons to embark upon a solo trip are:

  1. You can go where you want.  Sometimes it’s difficult to agree upon a destination.  If your companion prefers all-inclusive beach resorts, and you yearn for an exotic spot in India, someone will be disappointed.
  2. You can do what you want.   Whether you’re traveling with an elderly parent, a child or a couch potato, when traveling with others, activity preferences are frequently dissimilar.
  3. You can eat where you want.  Some palettes tend to be very liberal and experimental and others lean towards meat and potatoes.
  4. You don’t have to listen to others complain.  If your traveling companion wants his eggs cooked to perfection and detests long lines at attractions, you’re bound to hear complaints.
  5. It’s easier to meet people.  If you tend to speak to strangers and enjoy meeting locals, then solo travel is magic.
  6. There’s no one snoring in your ear or making a mess in the bathroom.  We all have quirks and/or traits that others find irritating, but when on your own, you avoid these irritations.
  7. You can travel and walk at your speed.  Constantly adjusting your pace to match someone else’s is no fun.
  8. You can sleep late or get up early.  An early bird and a night owl traveling together don’t mix.
  9. You can travel last minute.  Some of the best deals can be found when your plans are flexible.
  10. The feeling of accomplishment you gain during and after a solo trip is very rewarding.

Start out small by going out to eat by yourself, followed by a weekend trip to build up your confidence!

The Good – The Bad – The Wonderful

Looking back over the past four years, I realize how blessed I’ve been to have had some amazing experiences, learn new skills and obtain more knowledge in a variety of areas:

Technology:

How to make a blog.  How to make a collage of my photos on Picasa.  How to embed slideshows from Flickr onto my blog.   How to utilize more functions on my digital camera.  How to upload videos on YouTube.  How to use iMovie, iDVD, iMac, iPod, iPad, iTunes, TomTom, Skype, and a smart phone.  More about Search Engine Optimization and Google.

First time experiences:

Taking a Segway tour.   Being hit by a car as a pedestrian in San Francisco.  Riding an Elephant, Camel and Donkey.  Sleeping on the Nile River, on a boat in the China Sea, in the Desert, on an overnight bus (ugh), on a plane overnight (ugh), in the Amazon jungle, and on an overnight train in Portugal and Egypt.   Learned Hot Yoga.  Smoking flavored tobacco from a hookah.  Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu; through Petra, Jordan; in Cinque Terre; to the bottom of the Grand Canyon solo; to the top of Mt. Sinai; through Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Bryce and Zion Nat’l Parks.  Seeing the Pyramids.  Spending the night with a Peruvian family on an island of Lake Titicaca.  Getting an authentic Thai massage.  Taking a longboat ride on the Mekong River.  Trying new cuisines.  Swimming in the Dead Sea & the Red Sea.  Having a Turkish Bath/Massage.  Getting Botox.  Sand boarding & jeep riding in the desert.  Playing soccer with locals in Peru.

Travel:

Egypt/Jordan, Peru, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Spain, France, Portugal, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Dominican Republic, New England road trip (solo), California by Amtrak (solo), Alta, Utah (snow skiing), cruise (Belize, Roatan Island, Grand Cayman, Cozumel (solo)), Las Vegas (solo), Costa Rica, numerous hikes/camping throughout Kentucky and Ohio (with meetup.com hiking club), Florida, Chicago, and Nashville, TN.

Cooking:

Making…Broccoli Venison Over Rice and Roast Venison Over Veggies from this site.  Lots of new recipes from the Pioneer Woman.  Taking a cooking class in Thailand.

Meeting new people:

In addition to many new friends through Meetup.com, I’ve met people from England, Morocco, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Amsterdam, Gibraltar, Egypt, Jordan, Peru, and Thailand.

I have gone through many of life’s biggest stresses: moving (3 times), divorce, remarriage, job loss, family members with addiction issues and illnesses, and the death of my father.  I’ve acquired more: Compassion, spirituality, gratitude, patience and tolerance.

I have a feeling that the next four years will be as wonderful as the last!

Face Your Fears…Skydive!

Back in 2008, I convinced my son to skydive with me at the Warren County Airport in Ohio.  I was nervous…but he was really nervous!  I wanted to be an example to him of someone that wants to experience life and face fears!  I believe the second photo is of me landing and my son is already on the ground.

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It was a great experience…my favorite part was the free fall.  I kept my eyes closed while my instructor (who was attached to my back) inched us out of the plane and once out…opened my eyes and loved it!  You’ll see in the video that my son, who is 6’9″ tall, is attached to a guy that is about 5’7″!  Just click on the following link…then provide your name (you can make one up if you want) and zip code.

via Skydive Video.

To be In The Moment…Zipline!

 

Another fun day with my son…Ziplining at Camp Kern, just north of Cincinnati.  We’ve been one other time in Mexico about 7 years ago.  I’m admitting it…I was scared…but one of my big beliefs is to “face your fears”!  I took Justin skydiving a few years ago and for some reason this makes me a little more nervous.  The only injury of the day was before we even got outside…Justin hit his head hard on this doorway of the Ozone Zipline building.  The autumn colors were stunning and the other five participants were fun.  We went on seven lines…each one getting longer, faster and higher…up to 175 ft. high and 45 mph.  Because I was one of the lightest in weight, I had to do the “cannonball” to ensure I went fast enough on the longest lines to reach the end.  I can’t say I was ever totally relaxed…but I was in the moment. It’s nice to feel proud of yourself for doing something that pushes you…I guess that’s called empowerment!

 

 

 

 

 

Justin always went in circles…unintentionally…and one of the guides asked if he came out of the womb backwards!

 

 

 

Color coordinated gear…

 

 

 

This is the cannonball!

 

 

 

 

Sending peace, love and joy!

~Sherry~

 

p.s.  I have a phone interview with a travel company…so send good thoughts!