2016: The Year In Review

A lot has happened in this twelve-month period. We put our home on the market, after a mad rush to get it all painted and pretty – inside and out.

I started selling photos this year, it’s been a very slow climb but I think I’m gaining traction. I just pray that it continues growing in 2017 (and I hope for a new lens for my landscapes, just saying).

I also started blogging, and that means trying to find ways to monetize it. I’m finding that my health issues combined with my food and environmental allergies have a foot hold in the blogosphere I just need to learn more about how to grow it into a business which means reading more about it.

I can’t help but marvel at how most of my goals are centered on reading more. I often feel like I waste a lot of time reading, when in reality it is the center to my success. It’s official! I can be paid to read! #GOAL

 

2016 the year of stress… Between getting the house ready to sell, and my health issues “stress” is he only word that could apply to 2016.

Mother nature doing her best to keep our expectations in check… we had a huge hail storm in Southern Colorado and that left me unable to get a contractor out to paint our house until the last minute because so many homes were still unlivable that my house wasn’t a priority.

I had over a month wait with most contractors to get an estimate to get the house payment. And even then they couldn’t guarantee that they could get the house painted within the time frame I needed it done if we sold the house before 1 Nov. I was told this in August. We closed early October.
Thankfully I found a contractor who was able to fit me in, the outside of the house looked great when they were done, before we closed.

Every time we had weather move through I prayed it wouldn’t cause more damage anywhere in the city. I never realized just how stressful selling a house could be. I’ve watched HGTV you don’t see them freaking out on the shows about selling houses, but man! I sure did.

 

We finally sold the house, and we had a hiccup in moving into a rental; so we spent a month in a hotel. I can’t say it was a hardship. Having the room cleaned every day was a huge luxury I completely and thoroughly enjoyed. We had moved into a suite that had a small kitchenette so I could cook – somewhat – and so we could carry on as normal as possible.

Finally, as I was settling into a routine at the hotel, we got a rental. So every crazy bit spooled up again as we prepared to move into the house.

Thankfully we were able to space the signing of the papers and the actual move in so that we had time to clean the house, and buy carpets for the living areas that were hardwood. Everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go – well, other than the people who packed up our pods did so in a way that damaged most of our wooden furniture pieces. We are still trying to work out the paperwork for the moving company to fix everything. (See…stress.)

 

Thanksgiving rolled around, we were set up in our new home and all seemed to be calming down.   We had a wonderful Thanksgiving…then we set off on a journey to see my In-Laws. Two day in a car, one way, and then the actual visit. More stress… but this time with good coffee, good food, and a wonderful day with just Hubby, Chaz and I going and visiting the missions in and around San Antonio.

I have shared about the coffee…but I haven’t been able to get to the rest.  

Finally home, we got down to Christmas. Sadly Hubby’s travel schedule, and my poor health, meant that we didn’t get our decorations up. So we carried our Christmas spirit inside our hearts and let our home remain undecorated.

During this trip I started writing reviews for Yelp and TripAdvisor. I’m gaining a following there, so it will be fun to see where that takes me next year.

 

I hadn’t felt well for most of December, but I couldn’t figure out why. I had started Botox injection in the summer for my migraines and received my shots in December and that should have boosted my energy. Sadly it didn’t. My energy continued to be lagging until the week before Christmas when I realized why I felt so badly.

Kidney stones.

The very mention of them often brings people to a halt, with faces twisted in a sympathetic grimace. I had passed a couple without medications, but finally Hubby said no more and insisted I at least call the nurse to see what needed to be done. I called. Hubby was right (I’ve had to repeat that several times so Hubby can bask in the knowledge that he was right) the nurse said a visit to the ER was in order. So, I was taken to the ER and the CAT scan revealed I had three more stones to go. UGH! I left with meds and orders to see my doctor ASAP.

The next day I called my doctor and went into see him for some different meds that work better for me.   It was then that I found out I also had ovarian cysts, something any woman who has dealt with them will sympathize with me over. Since I had both at the same time, hurting is an understatement.
Finally Christmas Eve, I passed the last of them (or so I thought) and I am starting to feel better. I have more sleep that is needed to heal; thankfully my body has no problem in letting me know I’ve done too much.
So I’ve had to basically write off the end of 2016 as healing time, instead of doing a last big push to finish the year strong. I must admit that is a nice aspect to building your own business; you are the only one to suffer if you have to take time off. It’s also a great learning moment.

I’ve heard the saying that, “When you work for yourself, your boss can be a real jerk” Nathan Lowel [1], so this means that I have to remember to take care of my employees (myself) so they are healthy to produce quality work.

Upon writing this I have discovered I have one more stone to go, my right kidney is not happy but hopefully the end is near.

2017 – are you still with me???

I’ve never been one to set outrageous goals for myself. However, since I passed a milestone in 2016 – the age of 35 was given to me as a goal to reach by my allergist, a healthy dose of paranoia got me here and now I’m ready to spread my wings and reach for the stars.

So my plan for 2017 is several things that I have no way of prioritizing.

  • Make money from my blog
  • Make money by writing
  • Make money by editing
  • Make money from selling my photos

Are you sensing a pattern here?

So here the plan… I need to move out of Colorado. When you are allergic to the sun living at high altitude is not a good idea.   In order to move we have to be able to find jobs in the new location, or have a mobile income to take with us. This is where my blogging, writing, editing, and photography come into play. All of these can be done from the road or a new location, so there you have it.

Look for new posts, areas that are allergy friendly, and maybe even recipes…haven’t decided yet.

New health goals…

  • Avoid dairy, and thus kidney stones, at all costs
  • Continue to fight my anaphylaxis
  • Continue avoiding soy at all costs (had to mark a restaurant off my OK list)

Here’s to a brighter and successful new year…2017!!!

To endless horizons in the New Year!

[1] Nathan Lowell (2014) Owner’s Share (Trader’s Tales From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper) (Volume 6)

 

 

Buffalo, Wyoming: A Winter Wonderland

What’s a girl to do when big crowds and hot temperatures send her running for the hills?  

Why she visits the iconic summer destinations in the winter, of course!

Living with severe environmental (sun and heat) and food (soy and yeast) allergies travel can be a real pain. In December 2015 my husband came to me with an idea.  We needed to travel six hours north of Colorado Springs…Why?… Because, he explained, “we have been six hours or more in every other direction”. Makes total sense. Hubby did some research and we decided on our destination.

We went to Buffalo, Wyoming.

A place where old and new meld beautifully into a winter wonderland, rich in history yet hip and modern. No matter when you visit, there is history to be reveled in around every corner of the town.

From the Occidental hotel, to historic down town, everywhere you look you can catch a glimpse of the glory days for this small town.

Not the best lighting, but a wonderful historic building with literary ties.
Not the best lighting, but a wonderful historic building with literary ties.
A better view of the Occidental Hotel. Yes, you can still stay in this hotel. http://www.occidentalwyoming.com
A better view of the Occidental Hotel. Yes, you can still stay in this hotel. http://www.occidentalwyoming.com

For the literary buffs out there, you will know this gem as the place where, the Virginian got his man. While the historians will know it for the role it played in infamous story of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Wild Bunch.  For those who love the story lines of Craig Johnson in his Longmire series, especially if you have watched the show on A&E/Netflix you will recognize the scenery when you walk the paths in Buffalo Wyoming, as the fictional Longmire country.

And if you are in doubt that you’re in the right place, the “Longmire for Sheriff” signs all over town will confirm my description.

In summer time, locals and tourists a like, fill the streets to over flowing.  Whether they are stopping over on their way to Mount Rushmore or Yellowstone the town more than doubles in size in the summer months, making a stay in Buffalo more expensive – and for me more stressful – than it is in the off season.

In the winter, however, the small town feel returns to Buffalo.

Hotels can take time to deep clean their rooms, as the Hampton Inn we stayed at were in the process of doing.

Also no matter where you decide to eat you can almost guarantee a seat without a wait.   They have a variety of restaurants that would appeal to almost any pallet.  They have steakhouses that can, not only work around food allergies, but will serve you a steak and potato meal worthy of a cowboy who had spent a long hard day in the saddle.

For those who prefer an organic option for their meals, take heart… they have that also.  Organic BBQ is a thing, and it is better than one might think. Regardless of which you choose, prepare for the locals to give you a cursory once over, in the friendly small town way, and welcome you to town.

Buffalo Wyoming is a quintessential small town in winter.  So out of towers stick out just as much in winter – if not more – than in the summer when out of towners are expected.

With my food allergies, the steakhouse and organic BBQ were a welcome sight.  As I have come to realize the more hippy (a family term of endearment for food I can eat) the place is, the more choices I would have, and the Winchester Steakhouse and Up In Smoke, two places that were willing to work with me where my food allergies were concerned, were a breath of fresh air in the small town setting.

They also boast The Fix. The all import coffee house, where even the pickiest of coffee drinkers – me being among them – can find a worthy caffeinated beverage when one is needed.  A very important part for any trip I am on, otherwise I am not my normal bubbly self.

They outsource their coffee and syrups so you know you aren’t getting a cup of Folgers for the price of a Starbucks coffee.  Beans and syrups from Italy, the attention to detail was a wonderful addition to our trip.

The town is very pet friendly, over all.

We were traveling with our 9 month old 5 pound Multipoo, and other than eating establishments, which we expected, we were able to carry our small dog around while we reveled in the historic atmosphere.

Taking a short stroll around historic downtown.
Taking a short stroll around historic downtown.

The employees at the Hampton Inn fell in love with our little fluff ball, and did their best to spoil him with attention, as did most locals we happened upon in our exploring.

While we were not headed to another location we did drive through the Big Horn National Park. 

We reveled in the clear blue sky, the white mountain peaks, and the wind – which Wyoming is known for – as it whipped the freshly fallen snow into puffy clouds before our very eyes.

Those clouds are actually snow being carried by the wind.
Those clouds are actually snow being carried by the wind.
More snow being whipped into a cloud frenzy by the famous Wyoming winds.
More snow being whipped into a cloud frenzy by the famous Wyoming winds.
Driving through Big Horn National Park, and Chaz is in his favorite (warm-up) spot. Sun is bright, but don't let that fool you, it's cold out there.
Driving through Big Horn National Park, and Chaz is in his favorite (warm-up) spot. Sun is bright, but don’t let that fool you, it’s cold out there.

We also walked Clear Creek path for a bit.

I enjoyed the opportunity afforded by cold cloudy day to get out and walk a bit. Clear Creek runs through the town of Buffalo, and is filled with picturesque scenery. The locals call out a friendly hello as you pass one another on the path. While the Big Horn Mountains seem to suddenly appear out of nothing in the distance.  It is easy to see how in the spring and summer this path would be a tranquil walk, filled with areas to stop and take a moment to enjoy the scenery and quiet the creek provides.

Crossing the creek afforded an amazing view of the semi-frozen creek.
Crossing the creek afforded an amazing view of the semi-frozen creek.
A view often seen near Longmire's home in the Television series.
A view often seen near Longmire’s home in the Television series.
Chaz enjoying walking where there wasn't snow.
Chaz enjoying walking where there wasn’t snow.
A path leading to the Big Horn mountain range.
A path leading to the Big Horn mountain range.

We left our home in Colorado hoping to find an allergy friendly locale where I could relax and enjoy my time away from home, and we hit gold with Buffalo, Wyoming.

A cold, often overcast, place where hippy restaurants abounded so I could eat my meals without fear of reaction. To place icing on this already fabulous cake, it was also affordable. Something I had on good authority was not the case in the summer months.

If you are looking for an affordable winter get-a-way, think of heading west. Just keep in mind that winters in Wyoming are harsh. Which puts into perspective just what it took for settlers of this glorious state to survive each winter, let alone their first winter here.

 

 

The Helpful Little Lighthouse

Shop Amazon – Receive a $200 credit with a select camera purchase this article has been published! http://www.travelpostmonthly.com/2017/07/helpful-little-lighthouse/ 

Skyline and bug light
Skyline and bug light
For centuries lighthouses have stood guard over the rocky shores the world over. Providing safe passage to mariners and their ships traveling far and wide for industry and commerce. Portland Maine’s Breakwater “Bug” Light is no exception. For 141 years Bug light has been a small, yet mighty, protector for Portland’s rocky coast. Surrounded by a park filled with picnic tables it is a literal breath of fresh sea air. You can easily walk to Bug light and walk around it to see Casco Bay and all the islands off the coast. Not to mention a full skyline of Portland, Maine’s largest city.

Bug light, and part of the Portland sky line
Bug light, and part of the Portland sky line
Being a desert rat from the southern most parts of New Mexico, where the air is as dry as the sand, the sight of the Atlantic and surrounding battlements of old, not to mention the small but mighty Bug light took my breath away.

Picnic area at Bug Light
Picnic area at Bug Light
The sun was high, the grass a color of green I had only ever seen in a crayon box, and the water so blue and inviting I had a hard time keeping my shoes on my feet and my body out of the water (just wanting to make sure it was real since mirages look deceptively real where I’m from).

I kept reminding myself that I wasn’t 10 and throwing my shoes off and running like a maniac, who had never seen water before, into the bay was not lady-like for someone of my – not so advanced – age.  But it was so tempting.  Decorum won out in the end, after all it is a must when strangers are around.

(My husband is rolling his eyes and snorting as he reads this.)

So pretty, and what a view to enjoy your lunch.
So pretty, and what a view to enjoy your lunch.
However, if I would have had a kite on hand I just might have thrown caution to the wind and made the delicate fabric and stick ensemble fly with its ribbon tail dancing in its wake. The winds were perfect for it. (I’m sorry if “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” is now stuck in your head. It’s still stuck in mine.)

Breakwater "Bug" Lighthouse
Breakwater “Bug” Lighthouse
The walk to Bug Light is an easy stroll from the parking area, though the walkway to the lighthouse is made of granite boulders as is much of the area bordering the sea, they were easily traversed.

Closeup of Buglight and it's steps. See the door to the right of the screen? That's the helpful door.
Closeup of Buglight and it’s steps. See the door to the right of the screen? That’s the helpful door.
Walking up to the lighthouse I was taken a back by the ornate architecture of the light house.  As a minor collector of lighthouse figurines, I was expecting something…larger…and more basic.  A cylindrical post with a light and mirrors atop with a charming keepers cottaged attached. (Don’t you worry Maine’s got those too.)  Bug light is none of those, but still incredibly helpful.

closeup of architecture of Bug light
closeup of architecture of Bug light
It’s ornate columns decorated at the top with Grecian style leaves, and molding all done in cast iron make it an oxymoron in the world – as I know it – of lighthouses.

As I walked around Bug light I had to laugh out loud at just how helpful this little lighthouse really was for the tourists.  As you walk around the lighthouse, admiring it’s architecture, the sea and land surrounding it, you come to a door which tells you in bold black letters against the bright white of the body of the lighthouse, “You Are Here”.

Bug light is so helpful, this is on the door of the lighthouse.
Bug light is so helpful, this is on the door of the lighthouse.
I was so glad to see that note of help.  Living in Colorado, where you figure out your North from your South based on your proximity to the mountains, it was nice to know where I was there out on the coast of Maine. “Here”.

From the shore if you look right, while facing the sea, you’ll see Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse.

Water and skyline, so pretty and restful.
Water and skyline, so pretty and restful.
To the left you see Portland’s skyline.  Church steeples dot the sky, as the ferries bob along the horizon.  Old and new architecture meld together for a quiet and serene view, perfect for picnics and kite flying.  Benches dedicated to people who loved their time in the park dot the coastline, as people sit enjoying the quiet while eating their lunch, or chatting with acquaintances who walked past.  The entire area is so friendly and welcoming, yet understanding when you want time to yourself.  People would call out a hello, ask if I needed help finding something, and then let me be.

Bridge, and skyline of Portland Maine.
Bridge, and skyline of Portland Maine.
As I stood there admiring the ‘new of the area, and witnessing the ’old’ world contraptions still in use – granted updated with solar panels and powerful light bulbs instead of wicks and mirrors – I couldn’t help but wonder about the area’s history. The lives saved or lost. The ships the lighthouses were not able to save. History, the vessel we use to ensure we survive and have better lives than our ancestors. Oh what stories that little lighthouse could tell.

Inspiration To Travel

I recently read an article by annaeverwhere about traveling with chronic diseases and other medical issues. It really put into perspective my allergy issues.  While mine do not physically show, thankfully, they can be the cause for some very public displays of panic. However, since she isn’t letting it slow her down it has given me a little more spit and vinegar where my adventures are concerned.

We have had our home on the market for the last month or so, and each time we show the house I have to take the dog with me…after a whirlwind clean up of the house so it is show room ready, and I head for the nearest store that allows animals, or I head to the Air Force Academy so I can walk Chaz .

Today I have a showing and I’m thinking, if I cover up properly with sun clothes, and heading out to be a sightseer to areas I typically avoid because of the sun. Hopefully there will be new photos to take and no need for allergy meds.

It is just nice knowing that there are others out there, traveling and leading full lives in spite of their medical conditions.

While I do not travel on the same scale as Anna, for me just going out of the house is huge feat most days.

 

(This post was written a few days ago, go HERE to read about our adventures in Garden of the Gods.)

A Day In The Life: Another Opening, Another Show

What’s a dog to do when momma is leaving and taking him with her?…Why he hangs on tight and enjoys the ride of course.

Chaz has had quite a few interesting days in the last few weeks, and this week is proving to be more challenging than either of us thought.   I have not only moved things around on him, again, but we are going it alone this week while my husband is on travel.

So not only am I stressed all ready, but now I’m in hyper drive trying to get my To Do list done everyday, I also have to get us out of here on time when I need to for a showing, which doesn’t help his tummy troubles.

At this point even cottage cheese isn’t a guarantee for him to eat.  You know he’s stressed when even cottage cheese can’t tempt him.

Chaz and I as we headed out to Garden of the Gods. Doesn't he look enthused?
Chaz and I as we headed out to the Garden of the Gods. Doesn’t he look enthused?

So when we left for one of our showings we headed out, not to a store with lots of people and carts (stress for both of us), but to the great outdoors.  We drove to Garden of the Gods.  A wonderful tourist attraction here in Colorado Springs.

Thankfully it was partly cloudy so I got a little bit of a break from the sun. Sadly the place was packed for a Monday, no parking to be found near the famous rocks.  So I settled for a spot in lot 12, and we headed out into the great unknown…for him, I’ve been there many times.

Garden of the Gods is a huge tourist attraction here in the Springs.  Large looming rocks, red in color, that seem to come from no where. If you look closely you can see distinct shapes with in the rocks, like kissing camels. While there are many legends attached to them, they are a great place to get out and walk around, rock climb, or just take a slow drive through.  I had intended to park in the first lot, but it was at capacity, so we did the slow drive for a bit.

Once I found a spot to park, Chaz got antsy to get out and walk.

Chaz ready to get going on our walk.
Chaz ready to get going on our walk.

So I sprayed him to protect against ticks, and off we went.  It was a nice walk to a little path, that we took for a little bit.  Chaz took the walk like a champ, he got a little nervous when other people would join our path, but otherwise he just trotted along happily sniffing all the different smells we came across.

On to the red path, sniffing his way along
On to the red path, sniffing his way up the incline.

I was very thankful that the people looking at the house didn’t linger, because the sun came out and even more people began appearing on the trail.  We turned around quickly and headed home. It was a nice time out of the house, but it reminded me of just how stressful being outdoors can be. Especially at popular touristy places.

I can, thankfully, keep track of when the doors in the house are open and closed thanks to an app that works with our home alarm system.  So when I saw the people looking had arrived at the house we didn’t hang around for too long, which turned out to be a good thing as several smokers drove past immediately after we had gotten in the car to return home.

a collage of the photos I took on our walk. It is surprisingly hard to get 'good' photos when a dog is pulling on the leash.
a collage of the photos I took on our walk. It is surprisingly hard to get ‘good’ photos when a dog is pulling on the leash, even if its only a five pound dog.

I honestly don’t know which are worse the early morning showings or the early evening showings – but there is one good thing about the early morning showings…I have a good excuse to go get coffee.  You are shocked to read that, I know.

For one particularly early showing I found the grit to get out of bed, and out the door…Nemo’s!

I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks coffee, it will work in a pinch but if I have another option I will gladly go out of my way to get my morning coffee.  Nemo’s is my favorite go to spot for coffee outside of my kitchen.  They have organic coffee, coconut milk (they have other milk alternative if you require them), caramel (a must for me on hectic days, don’t judge), and on a day like this when I have the dog… a drive through and one of Chaz’s favorite dog biscuits.  Everything we need to have a successful start to our day.

Though I’m not sure how much of Chaz’s love for their dog biscuits is the biscuit and how much of it is all the attention he gets when he gets the biscuit.  Sometimes I really wish I could read his mind to figure these questions out.

Chaz is content after consuming his dog biscuit, and I have my coffee (with caramel a real treat for me).
Chaz is content after consuming his dog biscuit, and I have my coffee (with caramel a real treat for me). Check them out 2114 East Pikes Peak Ave, tell them I sent you.

Inside their mismatched tables and chairs make for a relaxed atmosphere where anyone, no matter your height, can find a comfortable place to sit and enjoy their coffee. They also boast bookshelves filled with books of every genre. Something that is very important to book worms like me.  If you aren’t like me…someone who takes books with her every where she goes – and is very thankful that someone invented the e-reader because her back is much happier when she isn’t carrying real books with her everywhere she goes… then Nemo’s is the place to be, a good book a great cup of coffee…what more could a person ask for?  Plus they have lots of goodies and most of them are made in house.

Hubby would recommend the sausage breakfast burrito, it’s his favorite regardless of the time of day. As for me I would recommend their caramel swirl coffee, I like it iced or hot with coconut milk.  It’s so incredibly wonderful!

Their motto, and it is so true their coffee with power you through anything.
Their motto, and it is so true, turtle power will get you through anything!

So with my turtle power in my system I feel just about ready for anything…provided it isn’t too out there. Ha!  Our life is so hectic right now, it’s hard to think about adding too much more to our plates.   However, our getting out there and seeing the area means I’ll have more adorable stories about Chaz’s adventures for you.