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Our High Seas Adventure

hmEyS3xoSQKyXGC8l9Bl0QTrains, plans, and automobiles have always been our mode of travel, until now…for the first time, we set foot on the high seas upon the @CarnivalCruise Pride,  an impressive floating city of metal and martinis. When we embarked on the ship, it became evident we were in for a week long extravaganza.   With nine stories, this boat had a waterslide on the top, a casino on the bottom, and everything you could possibly want or need in between.

For the first time ever, my brothers and sisters came together for an eight day vacation on a cruise-ship to the Bahamas. In addition, my nephew and his wife along with her family, made the trip as well. With a group of 17, it was hard not to notice us.  For the many of us in the group, this was our first cruise.

Food – It’s true what they say about the food on a cruise, it is delicious, abundant, and available around the clock.  We loved the main dining room, each evening we gathered with whole family to a formal meal. We adored the evening menu with things like prosciutto ruffles, braised rabbit, broiled ox tongue, lobster tail, swordfish, salmon, steak, pork chops, and the list goes on. Each night the menu changed to reflect the port of call of our location.  Our servers, Gerald and Mohammad, performed nightly with song and dance routines to lighten the mood.  Other restaurants included Guy Fieri’s  Burger Joint, Bonsai Sushi, and David’s Steakhouse to name a few.  Needless to say, we tried every eatery on the boat.

Drinks – there is just something about an exotic cocktail that confirms you’re on vacation.  We tried as many concoctions as our alcohol tolerance would allow.  Our favorite spot on the ship was the Alchemy Bar, where the mixologists were impressive, accurate, and intense.  Of course, there were bars at every turn with craft brews,  cocktails, and their infamous Bloody Mary’s.  Many in our group managed to meet the 15 alcoholic drink limit per day, an impressive task in itself!

Fun – Each day, cruise guests are given a schedule of the day’s planned activities on the ship. We jumped right in a attended a cooking demonstration at David’s Steakhouse that included a four- course sampler. Not to be outdone, Bonsai Sushi offered a sushi rolling demonstration, complete with samples to try.   Other activities like game shows, stand-up comedy, and karaoke happened nightly.

Ports – Our nautical  course included the islands of Princess Cays, Nassau, and Freeport of the Bahamas.  The sunshine was a pleasant change of pace from the overcast skies we left in Baltimore.

Princess Cay is an island owned by the cruise line.  Lined with royal blue chases, we found ourselves on a pristine private beach.  The cruise line prepared a barbecue-style lunch on the island and offered shopping, drinks, and anything your day at the beach required.

Nassau was not what what we expected. Once you left the dock you were thrusted in the middle of a bustling thoroughfare. The markets were filled with local crafts and merchandise. The locals were well trained in tourist techniques to get your attention and make you feel special. We were greeted as the beautiful lady and the handsome gentleman, as an continual icebreaker.  The local beach was patrolled by armed security and we were warned not to stray from the first two blocks for safety reasons.

Freeport was our last stop. It was an industrial port surrounded by freighters hauling shipping containers. Just off the dock, there was small market area complete with souvenirs and tchotchkes to tempt the masses.

Our final night at sea was one for the record books.  A winter storm named Skyler, created a weather phenomenon called a Bomb Cyclone on the east coast.  The captain gave us fair warning the seas would be rough during the night and he was right.  With 87 mph  winds slapping the side of the ship, the real adventure began. As we hunkered down in our cabin, the sounds of the ship reacting to the rough water was like a scene from a movie, you know the one I’m talking about.  We made it to calmer seas by morning about five hours behind schedule.  The #CarnivalCruisePride crew was outstanding and never missed a beat to make our vacation memorable, right down to the last hour.

Thanks @CarnivalCruise for a memorable vacation on our first #Cruise in the #Caribbean.   #Humbleweeds #CarnivalPride #FunSquad

 

 

 

 

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Elk Encounter in Estes Park

It seemed like the perfect place to go see the autumn leaves and wildlife on the move.  One of our favorite spots, the Rocky Mountain National Park, located just outside Estes Park, CO, has it all.  But things go a bit crazy for a few weeks in the autumn months of September and October.

We arrived at 6:00 am, before the park even officially opened.  The sun touched the mountain tops and the sounds of the season were just outside our window.  Here’s what we heard:  Among the tall grasses we caught a glimpse of the bugling elk bull.  He gingerly took a bath in a nearby pond and made his way up the mountain.  He was as disappointed as we were, he did not have a single female in sight.

We drove through the park and didn’t see another elk anywhere.  We made our way back to town and on our way there we noticed a little elk activity in a residential neighborhood.  The Subaru made a hard right and then another right…and that’s when it happened! We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a seasonal power struggle among the bulls.  I was both terrified and amazed at the same time.  By this time, the challenge between the bulls ensued around our Subaru.   While one bull showered the residential landscaping with urine, another used antlers to destroy the red maples so carefully planted by the homeowner.  Yes, we witnessed a real pissing contest!

The rest of the elk herd followed submissively as the largest bull encouraged the route.  In the meantime, the other bulls were not about to give up.  We sat dumbfounded in the Subaru unable to take our eyes off the bulls that surrounded us and afraid to make any sudden movements that may be mistaken as a threat.  Eventually, the dominate bull lead the majority of females his way into the woods.  Never giving up, the remaining bulls continued the confrontation to earn the attention of the females that lingered behind.   As the herd dispersed, our freedom to drive was now an option.

Needless to say, the entertainment factor of Colorado wildlife is without a doubt, an exhilarating experience.   We highly recommend it!  The Humbleweeds.  E and L

 

 

 

 

 

A Career in Cannabis Instead of Retirement…Yes, Please!

You know the old adage, the grass is always greener on the other side?  Well, it’s true in the US.  Like thousands of others before us, we made the move to Colorado one year ago from the East coast. Colorado is synonymous for things like 14’ers, alpine  skiing, craft beer, and cannabis. With the world at our feet, we decided to apply for jobs in the most controversial industry in America right now, cannabis. (more…)

High Times in Colorado

Have you ever been so high you thought you could touch the sky? Hey now, I’m talking mountain climbing…If you’ve ever climbed a 14er (a mountain summit that is at 14,000 feet above sea level or higher) you understand the euphoric moment when you reach the top. It’s like sitting on top of the world. Colorado is home to 58 fourteeners that bring droves of hikers and outdoor enthusiast to the trails. The Humbleweeds have crossed off yet another item on the bucket list.
It all started with a drive to Mt Evans, located near Idaho Springs, CO at an elevation of 14,271. Known as the highest paved road in North America, the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway winds to the top of the summit passing breathtakingly beautiful Echo and Summit Lakes. With snow still visible and the hillside blanketed with summer wild flowers, curious white mountain goats and bighorn sheep looked on as thousands of tourists make their way to the top of the sky-scraping peak. Looking out at the endless sea of mountain tops, feeling a sense of peace and wonder, one truly gets lost in the moment. As John Muir once said, “the mountains are calling and I must go;” so we began planning our next 14er outing, this time on foot.
Being novice climbers and maybe a little more “aged” than most on the trail, the Humbleweeds set out for Mt. Bierstadt, standing at 14,060 ft above sea level, just outside the town of Georgetown, CO. The parking lot was situated around 11,600 feet and from there the hike was a sharp 2,392 ft climb to the rocky summit. On July 4, starting at 7:00 a.m., we joined hundreds of other hikers making their way to the top. The round trip was a seven mile hike, but certainly not for the faint of heart. While passing through willow marshes and wadding across the rushing Scott Gomer Creek, it took almost 4 hours to reach Bierstadt’s western slope. The rocky trail made several switchbacks while progressing up the mountain. On the talus upper regions of the mountain, the route was no longer a recognizable path but a series of cairns, marking the way to the summit. The last 300 yards was certainly the most difficult while crossing the scree (broken rock fragments) while maneuvering the jagged boulders to the peak. As the air became thinner, it was evident the altitude affected our attitude, that’s right, the euphoria set in! We made it! Another Humbleweeds first…a real emotional high!

Once at the top, we claimed a spot on the peak to sit and bask in the glory of our accomplishment. We shared the peak with others who also made the successful trek to the top. Some even celebrated with a festive “keg stand” at 14,060 ft, oh yes…(see photo.) We were amazed to see so many well behaved dogs made the trip with their human companions. From the peak, we could see Mt. Evans, the mountain that inspired us to make the journey just a week before. One hiker told us he’d been hiking on Mt. Bierstadt more than twenty years and had never seen the weather on the mountain more perfect; certainly a a perfect way to spend July 4th in America.

We’ve only just begun.

The Humbleweeds,

Eric and Lori

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The inspiration! Mt. Evans Summit Lake  – Elevation 12,836 ft

Mt. Evans Residents

The hike to Mt. Bierstadt, looking back at our progress.

Meet Cairn, our tour guide atop Mt. Bierstadt.

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Humbleweeds sitting on top of the world!  Mt. Bierstadt- 07/04/2016

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Celebrations (keg stand top left), reflection, and rest! 

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The decent back to reality. Mt. Bierstadt in the distance.

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We’ve only just begun…

Downsizing 101

Are you overwhelmed with too much stuff? Do you still hang on to old tax returns or text books from college? Does The thought of cleaning out the garage, a closet, or the entire house leave you feeling stressed? There are plenty of theories of why we hang on to things, but it’s different for each individual.  According to Psychology Today, one reason, we don’t know how to proceed to remedy the situation because it’s all so overwhelming. Whether it’s an emotional attachment to items or just not sure where to begin, consider the following tips to start simplifying your excess baggage.  (more…)

Tiny Towns of the Western Slope

With a western slope trifecta, the paltry towns of Crawford, Hotchkiss, and Paonia, with a combined population of just under 3,000, are communities with kind hearts and a big ambition to stay small.  Located within the North Fork Valley region of Delta county, the area has a unique charm and simplicity that continues to attract homesteaders and of course, tourism. We were invited back to the area to housesit on a llama ranch and didn’t hesitate to accept! It’s the kind of place where time slows and a neighborly wave can be expected from just about everyone you pass along the way.

The region has a unique semi-arid high desert climate with a view of the West Elk Mountains to the east and Grand Mesa to the north, but my favorite landmark is Needle Rock, located in Crawford; the remnant of an extinct volcanic plug that forced its way through the earths crust, 800 ft up straight up about two million years ago.  Just over the ridge of Needle Rock stands the MadDog Ranch, once home to singer Joe Cocker (1944-2014).  I can certainly see why Joe found this place so appealing.

No matter where you drive in Delta county, the views are captivating from any direction, even along the roadside. There are nine wineries, one craft beer brewer, a brandy distillery, and the largest collection of organic farmers in Colorado.  The glorious sight of blooming fruit trees and grape vines winding their way to the sun, while fields are spotted with white wooly lambs gives one the sense of purpose on our beautiful planet.  Along the way is Hotchkiss, a quaint place with a mid-town gem,  Mary Hockenbery’s Church of Art, a funky approach to spotlighting local artists of the Western Slope.

We visited the Paonia local brewery, #RevolutionBrewing, a one room tiny house tucked along Grand Avenue, the main drag through town.  The minute we stepped foot in the door we could feel the heartbeat of Paonia was gathered in one room.  We were immediately welcomed with a tasty brew, The Hair of the Three Dog Night, a special batch brew that seemed to be a local favorite. The vibe was incredible, like a village instead of a town; there were moms, dads, kids, grandmas, grandpas, fathers, brothers, sisters, neighbors, local politicians, and us…the curious tourist, all congregated for a common goal, a home brew.  Paonia was indeed a true gem; with it’s own film festival and local performing artist #JeneveRoseMitchell (who appeared on American Idol), culture and art are very much a part of this small town’s charm.

We’ve decided the western slope of Colorado is certainly high on our list of favorite places.  It’s rough and rugged landscape is intoxicating and invigorating, just like the people who call it home.

Where the west was one…

The Humbleweeds

Eric and Lori

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How Pet Sitting Changed Everything

Are you looking for a change of pace, maybe slow things down? That question weighed heavy on my mind for 25 years, I knew there had to be a better way to spend more time enjoying life away from work. I once heard a European say, “Americans work too much” and I’m beginning to believe it. According to a CNN Money report, nearly four in 10 workers report logging 50+ hours weekly and the average American worker clocked 47 hours; that’s a lot of hours away from home and family. I decided to change career paths for the third time, but this time in search of something totally different from the thankless positions of my past. So, I turned to house and pet sitting.

What is house-pet sitting, you ask? Just what the title implies, you care for someone’s home and pets while they are away. If you’ve ever had to board a pet, you know it can be expensive and stressful for both owner and pet. Same thing with your home; when you go away on vacation do you worry about your home sitting empty and being vulnerable to severe weather or even criminal activity? A House-pet sitter stays in your home, cares for your pets, and maintains the house and other chores needed. Imagine the peace of mind traveling knowing your pet and home are in loving and caring hands around the clock. That’s my new job.

After 18 months of travel and 17 housesits later, I’ve been humbled by the generosity of others and uplifted by the love of their devoted pets.  From llamas to kittens, and everything in between, I’ve been forever changed by the sweetness of a wet nose.  With each sit, I learn something new-whether it’s how to care for an aging pet or prepare a home for a hurricane–it all contributes to my repertoire of life experience.

What does it take to be a trusted house-pet sitter and travel to exotic places? It’s easier than you think. Visit trustedhousesitters.com and look around first. If you like what you see, a minimal annual subscription connects you to amazing places, pets, and people.

I travel, therefore I am ….happy!

The Happy Humbleweed-Lori

Cultural Enrichment in Las Vegas

neonmuseaumYes, it’s true! You can have a culturally enriching experience in Las Vegas. It was a sign, a neon sign that convinced us.  Las Vegas is known for its bright lights and glitz. Without it, Las Vegas is just another dry desert town.  Well the folks at the Neon Museum in Las Vega have a real class act. They’ve taken on the responsibility to tell the real story of Las Vegas by way of iconic lighting fixtures and the signs of days gone by. The museum docent was amazing and obviously had a passion for her job and the Vegas story.  The tour took us through the “Boneyard”, the largest outdoor collection of vintage signs.

The museum lobby and visitors center is housed inside the former La Concha Motel  (moved from its original location) designed by architect Paul Williams in 1961 to create a futuristic feel to the Vegas Blvd. The motel closed its doors in 2003 as the landscape of the desert city was evolving.  In 2006, the structure was moved to the Neon Sign Museum and restored to its former glory as the visitors center of the museum.  A must see during your next  visit to Las Vegas.

Kudos to the Neon Museum for sharing tales of light that may have otherwise faded into the dust.

We’ve seen the light!
The Humbleweeds

Meadow Makes Her Way West!

Meadow’s road trip to Colorado! #humbleweeds (at Colorado/Kansas Border)

Kansas City’s Blue October

Kansas City….We had the privledge of visiting Kansas City during Blue October, the KC Royals run for the pennant. The city was alive and connected with excitement of their beloved hometown team. We connected with friends in a suburb of KC on Lake Tapowingo. We were treated to a weekend of all things KC. We began with the Boulevard Brewery tour in Kansas City. Not only did we get tasty beer samples, but we were throughly entertained and educated by our tour guide Adam with a mix of humor and hops.

Then there’s the food…Porky’s BBQ is a foodie treasure trove. The place is only open Friday-Sunday from lunch time until the meat is are all gone, which is usually only a few hours. The food is extraordinary and the concept simple, do what you do best and specialize in it!
Further in the city, there’s The Flea. A quirky historic flea market turned restaurant, provides a glimpse into the past of old downtown KC. Boasting their award winning chicken panini, The folks at The Flea were fun and engaging. The restaurant still saves room for a few flea market bargains, so shopping is part of the experience.

We love the spirit of Kansas City and their championship attitude! Thanks Mark and Jacque for sharing your great city with us.

Heading west,
The Humbleweeds
Eric and Lori

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