The Complicated Traveler

Travel for me means planning for all of life’s unknown

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Curly Locks And The Three Lighthouses

As a dessert rat, many generations removed, I find the idea of lots of water – added into the idea of colors that do not involve any degree of brown – absolutely fascinating.

Growing up in the southern most part of New Mexico, even our green is brown.  Dirt everywhere and even the plants blend into the dirt, though they do on occasion turn a very pretty dessert green.  It is kind of like olive drab, but not.

So when the opportunity arose for a chance to go to Maine I was more than happy to say, “yes, please”.

As we began our decent into Portland my head was on a swivel. Everywhere I looked there was water.  Ocean, bays, rivers, as we turned into our final approach I had water on both sides, I’d look left there was water with little blobs (I presume they were islands), when I’d look right there was more water and more blobs.  As we got closer to the main land old battle armaments were visible, as well as…lighthouses.

Every little cove, every shore, somewhere along its water attachment was a lighthouse.

The houses that came into view were magnificent, old and new architecture, both weather worn and quintessentially sea side homes.  It put me in mind of the fictional Cabot Cove from Murder, She Wrote.

Now one thing you have to understand is that I have curly hair.  I have the kind of curl that puts Goldie Locks to shame, only mine are brown very tight ringlets.

Remember my talking about being a desert rat?  Well, I now live in Colorado which means that the air is even dryer than New Mexico.  This is my hair in the dry Colorado air.

These curls are present in the dry high desert air of Colorado. This is why you will rarely see me with my hair down. It curls itself into knots.

These curls are present in the dry high desert air of Colorado. This is why you will rarely see me with my hair down. It literally curls itself into knots.

If you know anything about humidity you’ll know what humidity would do to hair such as mine; hence the title of the article.

I got sidetracked, back to the story.

After a much needed nights sleep, I was up and at’m, I had places to go and things to see.  Though we had landed in Portland we were staying in the Lewiston/Auburn area. It is a magnificent and quirky place.  Lots of different food types to be found, and being a college town awesome coffee places. But I digress, this story isn’t about coffee…it’s about lighthouses.

Sight Seeing

Coffee in hand…check.  Camera charged, and memory card in place, easily accessed…check.  Full tank of gas…check. Phone plugged in and music ready belt out…check.

It was time to see the shore, the sea, to feel the salty sea air as it tightened the redish brown ringlets of my hair and fill my lungs with more moisture in one breath than I’d feel with the same lungful of air during a downpour at home.  It was time to let the inner Columbus out and go exploring.

With map in hand, Siri set to get me there by the long scenic route, I was ready to see whatever I might see.

Getting on the 295/1 wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, since I had planned a quick detour to L.L. Bean (I was in Maine after all, one must pay homage to the local home store) and since I was going the back way the speeds weren’t that high, and since I didn’t know where I was going, exactly, I set the cruise control and let the locals pass me.  I did take a few unplanned detours, when you find a road sign naming the road as runaround pond you kind of have to go find that pond. While I did find it, and I couldn’t see how any sane person could indeed ‘run around it’. Yes, these are the crazy things that pass through my mind on any given day. It was still beautiful country side.  Farms dotted the dirt road, horse owners were out working the beasts, and signs proudly advertised a particular Farms farmers market.  I can’t even imagine buying all of my produce from the farm that grew it mere hours after it had been picked.

I still don't see how you are supposed to run around this pond.

I still don’t see how you are supposed to run around this pond.

Finally, I was back on my way, Taylor Swift welcoming me to New York, when I saw a lovely river languidly flowing along side of me. When the public parking area came into view I pulled in, and went for a little hike to the waters edge.

Home's on the river bank, only viewable because the trees were still bear.

Home’s on the river bank, only viewable because the trees were still bear.

Every body...

Every body… “waiting, just around, the river, bend.”

As “Just Around the River Bend” ran through my head, I stood and listened the lapping of water, and reveled in the homes that could be seen on the opposite shore.  Only seen because the trees along the banks had yet to leaf out.  Serenity filled me, calmed me, coursed through my veins and excited me at the prospect of seeing the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Back in the car and continuing on my quest to find L.L Bean.  Finally successful in my quest of finding L.L.Bean, I had to take a moment to really take all of L. L. Bean in.

Now understand I’m come from Cabella’s and Bass Pro Shop ville. Those places are huge! But when compared to the sheer size of the first L.L. Bean…they are tiny.   Three different buildings, all covering several blocks were in front of me.

I saw a Paul Bunyan sized snow/water shoe and headed straight for it, walking past a building that boasted archery classes as I went.  Success! I found the retail store. The one that sold shoes, jackets, and dog bowls; a three story shoppers paradise.

Inside I found very helpful natives who were more than willing to take a minute, or twenty, and talk about their state and all the wonders there were to see.  Armed with that, and nothing else – I was proud of myself for not buying a single thing while I was there.  I headed back to the highway to finish my quest for the sea and the beacons that guard her shores.

But first a quick stop at a rest area was in order.  Remember the afore mentioned coffee?  Inside I found a wonderful lady who had an even more detailed map for me, and even drew me the line that would get me to all three of Portland’s lighthouses. It was at this moment I realized I was about to meet the Three Bears of Lighthouses.

The Lighthouses

Baby…  First I arrived at Breakwater “Bug” Light lighthouse.  This is Baby Lighthouse.  It is small, it is tiny, it is so compact that you’d find it hard to believe that it is a light house.  Because let’s face it, it’s not what you think of when you think of lighthouses.

Breakwater

Breakwater “Bug” Lighthouse Baby lighthouse

Baby  was built in 1875 and modeled after a grecian monument, and is made out of cast iron.  It is a strong and mighty little thing.

It was very useful during WWII when the shipbuilding industry was booming in Portland.  It guided vessels as their entered or left Portland’s harbor.

You can read more about this lighthouse here. It is a wonderful place for families with smaller children who need to get out and run around.  It’s park is small and intimate, and a great place for kite flying.

Momma

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, up close. Couldn't get up on it, to look around, but the views from the point were amazing.

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, up close. Couldn’t get up on it, to look around, but the views from the point were amazing.

Next you come to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, a caisson style lighthouse.  Bigger than Bug light, but still not what you would think of when thinking of a lighthouse; for me anyway.

What made me think of this as Momma is that it is near Southern Maine Community College, so education is important. And being a proud home school graduate, we all know how important education is.

Also Spring Point is surrounded by the remains of Fort Preble, so the old battlement walls can be seen, and through them the shores across the bay.

This brings to mind the momma bear mentality mothers are known for, along with the nurturing you expect as a home school kid of the mother teaching her children with the college so close.

This lighthouse is not easily traversed.  You have walk along the breakwater (sea wall in my language) to get to it, and some of the boulders have some substantial gaps to be jumped over.  But for older kids who have some energy to burn it would be a great experience to see just what the keepers would have to go through to check on the lighthouse each day.

The surrounding areas of Fort Preble would be OK for smaller kids to enjoy while their older siblings went scrambling. Lot of views to see through old armaments.

There is a little maritime museum between Bug and Spring point lighthouses.  Inside they give a brief history of ships and the men who worked on them. You will also find a small store, I got some cute books about Maine for my niece and nephew.

Finally, Papa

So pretty. Papa lighthouse

So pretty. Papa lighthouse

Here is the lighthouse I see in my dreams.  It the picture perfect ideal, complete with keepers cottage, of what a lighthouse should be; in my estimation.

It gives one a feeling of strength and stability, which if you remember the fairy tale of old it is the very essence of that Papa.

Portland Head Light  marks the entrance into Portland’s harbor.  It is attached to Fort William, or what’s left of it anyway, by parks.   For a family looking for a no kidding day out with the entire family (young and old) this is the place to be.  The keepers cottage has been turned into a place you can get food (provided there are no restrictions on what you can eat).

While I didn’t even try to go and get food there, my pamphlets told me about the food and the store that were located inside what used to be the keepers quarters.  There were simply too many people around the building for my taste, so instead I stayed outside and enjoyed the sunshine while I could.

Surrounded by a state park, with access to the ocean, picnic tables, room for kids to run around, and ruins of a fort that so long ago kept our northern shores safe, you can’t help but stand in awe of the history all around you.

If you are looking for a great place to visit, filled with history, and yet calm and serene, Portland’s lighthouses are a must.

Finding The Fun Of Moving

Isn’t he cute!

There aren’t many things in life that can prepare you for a move of mammoth proportions, being a military wife is the only thing I can think of that could prepare you for the move we just did; however, being retired military and moving across the country is another story all together.

We moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Maine (we haven’t decided on a city yet). It was a 6 day 2K+ mile drive to get to Maine. Our longest day in the car was almost 12 hrs, and the shortest was 6 hrs. Looking back on it now, it’s a wonder that Hubby, the dog, and myself were able to stand each other by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Augusta, Maine.

There were a few unforeseen things we encountered as we were in the final press to get out of Colorado that shook our plans to their core, but thankfully the military prepared us to get through the unexpected. Two weeks before the day we planned to drive out of Colorado

Planning; Derailed

There aren’t many things in life that can prepare you for a move of mammoth proportions. Being a military wife I felt at least somewhat prepared for such a move. My husband had moved to England and back, and I had a couple of military moves under my belt, so I figured we were set and had planned for all unforeseen. Remember the saying, ”want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”? Keep that in mind.

We moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Maine (we haven’t decided on a city yet). It was a 6 day 2K+ mile drive to get us to Maine. Our longest day in the car was almost 12 hrs, and our shortest was 6 hrs. Looking back on it now it’s a wonder that Hubby, the dog (Chaz), and myself were able to stand each other by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Augusta, Maine.

We had carefully planned the whole trip, from what to have by packed by when, to exactly where we could and would stop along the way for me to be able to eat. Looking back maybe we planned things to closely. The issues cropped up two weeks, almost to the day, before we were to leave.

We had reached the pinnacle of Hubby leaving his job, he’d given them 2 months notice and at last the day had finally arrived. We planned a mini vacation to get away from the boxes and chaos at home for a few days to decompress before the craziness of the new few weeks hit. We got back from that short trip and we to grab a bite to eat. Hubby got junk food (Arby’s) while I went to my favorite salad place for a dinner salad (Modern Market). The following Morning (Monday) Hubby woke early with a tummy ache. Knowing he had eaten junk food I told him to get the heating pad and to lay down. A few hours later, with a cup of tea that should have helped, if it was from dinner the night before, Hubby wan’t better. After careful consideration and a call to the nurse… we were off to the ER. Eight hours later…hubby was in surgery for a hot appendix. Yeah, I felt really bad after realizing that was the issue.

After surgery he felt much better, but he was told 6 weeks of no lifting anything that weighed more than a gallon of milk. I called our move organizer while we were waiting in the ER and thankfully they were able to schedule packers to come in and finish packing us out, because I had my hands full keeping hubby in bed, resting. One week after surgery we moved into a hotel so we were more comfortable while the house was mostly void of furniture.

Everything progressed as planned, until the day we were scheduled to drive out. Our dog got so stressed out about hubby being sick, my being stressed taking care of everything because hubby couldn’t, and still trying to work (thus I wasn’t sleeping much). The dog is very attached to me, I’m the one who’s home with him all day, I feed him, and he sleeps (quite literally) on me at night. So this, probably more than anything, really stressed him out. We got everything on our pre-move check list done, and got into bed for our final night in Colorado, and the dog was up twice in the middle of the night with diarrhea.

Leaving, Finally

Saturday, the first day of our journey, was our longest day on the road. We were up at 0600 and on the road by 0700, it was supposed to be a 7.5 hr drive to our final stop of the day. We got some coffee and some food and we were off, our first scheduled stop in 2.5 hrs so hubby could walk around and the dog could release himself. Half an hour later the dog was asking for a break, it was a good thing we stopped as the accidents from the night before were not a two time thing. Nope his tummy trouble took our 7.5 hour day and turned it into a 12 hour day. Poor little guy. Thankfully as they day wore on he improved. He got 12 hours of my either holding him, or him sleeping on his pillow next to me. We figured he just needed a little momma time.

The rest of the trip was rather uneventful, by day two Chaz was fine and our planned stops were more attainable. Off we went. With one major thing that had to be dealt with. Hubby was not allowed to lift anything, so guess who loaded and unloaded the car every night. You guessed it… me! Hubby had to hold the dog and endure the looks of disgust from those around us, very few of them offering any sort of help to me. I felt sorry for him, but that the same time there was nothing to be done about it. And as the days wore on I got rather good at it, if I do say so myself. Though by the fourth day we were happy to allow the porters to help when we had them at our disposal.

Moving is stressful, change is stressful, and all that stress can be over-powering.  The key is to breath, the goal is to endure, and the final product is to be enjoyed.  More to come.  Who knew getting a new doctor in a different region could be so much work.

It was gorgeously green, and far too sunny and hot for my liking.

Coffee paradise 

Never have I had as flavorful and beautiful cup of coffee in my life, and since I love coffee and go to any coffee place that looks interesting this is a huge feat.


Press coffee offers almond milk as a substitute for milk, and when I asked what was good a vanilla latte with almond milk was suggested.  I agreed and headed out to sit with hubby and the dog at their outdoor seating area.

Tobacco free was the second good news of the day for me.   

The coffee was as wonderful as it looked.  Hubby got his usual iced sweetened latte and a ham and cheese croissant. It was a perfect start to our day. Overcast, and cool, under a tree so old that it had to have stands to help hold it’s branches up.

tree branch brace tree branch brace hanging basket img_0349 img_0350 Chaz hanging out on hubby's lap img_0356 img_0357 img_0358 img_0359 img_0360 there is age in beauty an old old tree

Located at 606 W French Pl, San Antonio, Texas 78212 It is a small area, great for working (inside or out depending on the weather) and the coffee is worth repeating.

You can view my full review at TripAdvisor.com

My Take On The EpiPen Debate

As a sufferer of Idiopathic Anaphylaxis the latest Epipen controversy has me a little concerned for a number of reasons.

My life could literally hang in the balance.

I don’t just carry an EpiPen or two.  I carry ten or more at any given time.  When I’m planning to go on a trip, I discuss with my allergist just how many EpiPens he wants me to take with me.

When we went on a cruise last year that number was 21, incase we were somewhere in the wilds of Alaska and I had to wait for emergency medical services.   That would give me almost two hours to live if we had to wait for medical services.  Since anaphylaxis isn’t something you can choose to treat or not.  It is literally a treat or die situation; I am dumbfounded at how a company can choose their bottom line over saving lives.

The answer I am seeing the most to the high cost of the EpiPen is to get an ampoule of adrenaline and a syringe.  

I have an issue here.

When you can’t breathe, you can do one of two things…

1) focus on breathing – it is kind of important after all.

OR

2) divert the energy I should be putting into breathing  to draw up the right dose of a life saving drug.

I do not see how this is an option for an adult who is often on their own.

For children who are around school nurses, or even at home with their parents I can see how the ampoule could be a viable option. (Though when seconds count making sure you have the right dose takes too much time). While still having the auto-injector for when the child is outside or at a friends house.

Fear of needles.

Let’s face it, the auto-injector is favored because you never have to see the needle.  I have a number of friends who will pass out at the sight of a needle, let a lone seeing actual blood.  So if my life is at stake I don’t want to be reliant on someone else to draw up AND stick me with a needle.  Because lets face it, if you prick me with a needle…I’m going to bleed, a bit. And if you have to use a syringe there is no way to hide the needle from view.

Then you get into the situation of needing a sharps container to dispose of the needle, and carrying multiple syringes incase you need more than one dose…. The list goes on and on.

So what are my options?

The News Media is talking up a couple of different manufacturers who plan to put out a generic auto-injector within the next year. However, my fear is that the FDA will rush them through without allowing the proper amount of time to test for viability.   One generic brand has already attempted to release an auto-injector but was shut down because it didn’t deliver the correct dose.

Another question I have is, how can they be sure the generic adrenaline will be as effective?   Not to mention…for me specifically…will they work?  Since I also have adverse reactions to Soy and Yeast, AND other drugs – namely steroids- there are no guarantees that a generic will work for me. Since one of the reactions I have to these additives is anaphylactic you can imagine my fear of using a new product.

So where does that leave me in this medical corporate greed era?

My personal take on the issue.

Since I am often out doing errands on my own – quite literally taking my own life into my hands to keep up with the demands of our household – having things pre-measured is a must.

My husband found me small containers which I filled with the exact dose for my antihistamine I’ll need at the start of an attack.  This way I’m not carrying around the giant prescription bottle filled with the magic elixir and trying to find the measuring cup, and measure out exactly 15cc’s of the medicine when I’m oxygen deprived.  Believe me when needed I’m not afraid to just put the whole bottle up to my mouth and pour, which isn’t a good thing.  So my little bottles are a must!

However, I wouldn’t be able to pre-measure the adrenaline as it cannot be exposed to sunlight for long periods, thus a pre-filled syringe would not be a viable option as it could degrade to the point of being ineffective, which leaves me having to draw up another dose when I’m even worse off than when the attack started.

Let’s get real:

Do you see the snowball effect here?  It’s act quick and decisively…or…die.  There really isn’t a middle option unless you can afford to have a certified medical person with you at all times.

Also there are times when more than two doses are required (for me), if I’m by myself, I’m screwed because at that point my oxygen levels are down to the point that I can’t count to 10, let alone focus my eyes adequately enough to read the line numbers on the syringe.

So the auto-injector is vital to my survival.

Also when it comes to other brands I have to not only be careful of what’s in the new brand, but also whether or not it will work as effectively as what I currently use.  Believe me, most of the time I fall into the .01% of people who it won’t work on.

( I don’t carry the mantlet of medical freak lightly, I have earned it!  Even the National Institutes of Health don’t know what to do with me.)

I will be having a long talk with my Allergist about what to do when I get my new prescriptions from him.  I’m very much a ‘stick with what works’ person, so if my insurance says no to the EpiPen, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Aside from having major panic attacks about leaving the house.

The stress of switching brands.

Aside from the stress of wondering if the generic will work there is also the issue of new procedures to use the auto-injector.  Apparently the one generic that is offered currently has two caps that need to be removed before use, not one as the EpiPen has.  So for someone who often has to jab the auto-injector into her own leg, this means learning new moves to ensure a successful dosing.  Not the easiest thing when you’ve been using one style for over a decade.

I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but believe me it is.  Muscle memory is a real thing, and it is vital to my survival during an attack.  I have to focus on getting air past my swelling airways and into my tight lungs in order to survive. So that means if I get distracted on something crucial like…opening an auto-injector I could pass out before I can get the meds into my system, which literally lessens my chance of survival.

 

*All articles were found on either CNN or Fox, for more information I urge you to search out these articles and arm yourself with information. 

5 Things I Do Before Trying A New Restaurant

When you have food allergies, no matter how severe, there is one thing that strikes fear in your heart like none other…eating at a new restaurant.

Here are a few steps I take before trying a new restaurant.  They aren’t fool proof, and it doesn’t mean that you will be able to eat anything you want on the menu, but they should save you a few uncomfortable evenings after diner.

1. Look them up on line especially pay attention to their menu. If they have instructions at the bottom…* eating undercooked…yada, yada, and it also says to “alert your server if you have food allergies”… then in my experience you should be in luck.

2. Call them, but not at a peak time.  If you google the restaurant during their peak times should be listed.  When you call them ask, specifically, to speak to a chef or the kitchen manager. Do not just talk to whomever answers the phone, if they aren’t aware of food allergy severity or if they aren’t a part of the ordering process they will not be able to thoroughly answer your questions.

3. Get a name for when you go into the restaurant. This way you can give your server the name of who you need to talk to concerning your allergy.  I always call, then double check when I get there.  You can never be too careful.

4.  Get a card listing your allergies, your allerigst should be able to help here. If not there are companies who will make them for you.  This makes it easier for your server. They can take the card back to the kitchen so the chef can come out and quickly lay out your options.

I’ve been asked several times if I had a card, which I don’t because of the nature of my allergies, it’s hard to list out what I’m allergic to.  Often people assume that since I’m allergic to soy, so long as there is not soy sauce I should be fine.  But that isn’t the case. I have make sure there’s no mayo, or that the restaurant only uses real butter as opposed to a margarin butter blend. And the list goes on and on.  Never be afraid to repeat yourself.

5.  Keep your expectations in check. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a new restaurant and had one of two things happen.

I either found I could only have one thing on the menu, or that the chef would have to make something not on the menu for me. Which I have to tell you isn’t such a bad thing.

OR

I can have anything on the menu, that isn’t asian inspired, and I’m so overwhelmed I can’t decide.

Conclusion

While I’ve come to appreciate the chef who is willing to go off book, I typically get food that is so good I’m willing to eat the same thing every night for a week.  It’s not always that easy.

Once when on a trip we went to a seafood restaurant in Las Vegas.  I had called a head and talked to the chef, so they were prepping an area in which to make my food and we had settled on what would be made for me.

We were on a field and track trip so there was a rather large group of us going.  When we got there, I spoke with the chef again confirming that I could eat what was being offered.  While I was doing this the server came and took everyone else’s order.

Once my order was confirmed: pan fried trout (a personal favorite), steamed asparagus, potatoes and brussel sprouts, and an olive tapenade.  I sat back and enjoyed the conversations going on around me.  As everyone’s orders began coming out, seafood platters, crab cakes, a bunch of deep fried goodness I sat there calmly waiting for my food.

The chef brought it out himself.  After confirming everything looked ok, the chef returned to the kitchen and I looked up to many pairs of eyes staring at my plate.  One of my friends raised his hand, while looking at my plate and proclaimed, “I think I have food allergies”.  HA!

I must admit it was one of the best meals I had had up until that point in my food allergy journey.

On the opposite side of the coin, we recently had a new restaurant open here and I made the mistake of calling during their opening night.  I checked for peak times and none were listed, I quickly realized why none were listed.  Anyway,  I talked to someone in the kitchen who was very frazzled, and she asked that I email, but also said that she would get some answers and call me back.

I emailed them asking about their menu, and never heard a thing back.  It’s rather disheartening, but I will not eat there. Hubby has asked a couple of times about it, but since I do not have answers I will not be eating there.  It’s that simple.

What are some steps you take to ensure you don’t take a hit when eating out?

Dog friendly restaurant in Colorado Springs!!!!

I must admit that this idea has me intrigued.  My biggest complaint about traveling with Chaz is getting food.  Thankfully there are a few places we can go to eat where we can have him on the patio, and I can sit there too, but for the most part its easy (unhealthy) take out, or order and go pick up from nicer places. However, eating a steak with a plastic fork and knife in a styrofoam container…is not easy. I know I’ve tried.  I’ll have to continue to keep an eye on this and see if I can eat there when it opens.

Let me know if you hear anything about this place Pup Dog Colorado!