Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Retired and living the good life

San Francisco, once again
 Oct. 5 marks the first-year anniversary of what I hope was my final retirement at a job working for someone else.

That last job was driving a school bus. I was at it for 11 years. Prior to that it was a stint on one newspaper for 28 years. Then there was two years of working on a weekly right out of college.

I was hoping that the freedom of this last retirement would open up the door to more travel.

Let's see. 

The day after retirement last year, wifey and I flew out to the West Coast for a 9-day trip that took us all the way up to Coos Bay, OR and then back down to San Francisco.

During the course of the year we worked in a few overnighters to New Orleans and also visited our children in Louisiana and Georgia a couple times each. We also visited Six Flags during their Halloween celebration.

Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans
And then in early December we took my now-departed mother on a trip that ended up in Bowling Green, Ky. On the way we visited the Christmas program at Calloway Gardens in Georiga and got to see the holiday parade in Gatlinburg.

A two-week trip last May took us to Hampton, VA and then back along the Blue Ridge Parkway through Blowing Rock and Boone, NC and over to Gatlinburg before heading home.

During July, we took another annual camping trip to the Smokies and now we're going to be off on another two-week trip next week that includes the Smoky Mountains and Kentucky.

It's been quite a year.

We are already planning on a cruise in December in preparation for a jaunt across the pond and a northern European cruise.

We seem to go to a lot of places over and over, but its because we like and enjoy them.

I wish for everyone to get out and see new sites as well as the old and enjoyable.

Next post: October 1, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Guatemala -- thoughts on safety, another visit

Mountain range overlooks harbor at Santo Thomas

A relative and his wife are off on another cruise this week. 

This makes their thirteenthbazillion they've been on to the Caribbean. Sailing out of New Orleans is easy although they have traveled to Galveston, Tampa and Miami to take to the high seas.

A number of years ago we and they sailed at the same time but on different ships which both anchored at the same time in Cozumel, Mexico. We got together for a couple hours before the ships set sail again and headed home.

The four of us took a sidetrip a little inland (about a mile or so) to take in what the natives have to deal with. It was interesting. And a group setting makes it seem safer when in unfamiliar territory.

And now I reflect back on the sidetrip my wife and I took by ourselves on the same cruise when we disembarked in Guatemala.

The area adjacent to the port at Santo Thomas was rather benign.

And at the time, we didn't think much of the inland area not being safe. We walked a mile or so from the ship, browsed through a local market and took a few pictures.

We tried to pay for some bananas with US currency, but they couldn't deal with it and finally the man just gave us the fruit.

I was thankful for his benevolence although we could afford the produce.  The place was akin to a flea market in the US with goods spread all around. People would come and go, making purchases and heading home.

There were a lot of children around and bikes and trucks made their way down the street in front of the market.

We took an hour or so for the excursion and felt quite safe.

I guess if I went down there again and walked the same area I would feel somewhat safe, but maybe be on the lookout a little more. And maybe take a few more people with me.

At the time we were the only Americans and we didn't think much about that. The people were friendly, no one posed a threat and our experience was enjoyable.

At times,  after getting back home and looking at some of the pictures we took of the beautiful mountainous area surrounding the port, it looked like a good place to purchase some property and have a vacation home.

How's that for thinking the place is not safe to visit.

Next post: Sept. 23, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Alligator adds a little adventure

One can often find a little adventure close by.

And I guess alligators fall into that category.

The one we saw wasn't quite as big as the record-breaking, 700-plus pounder taken just recently in Mississippi.

It was only about four or five feet long, but any size alligator seems intimidating to me.

A few months ago church acquaintances of ours invited us to their home located on a bayou. After watching the gator roam around the bayou as we shot pictures off their boatdock, we headed out to the Pascagoula River.

It was a slow ride in their pontoon boat, but interesting and enjoyable. I've crossed over the Pascagoula River many times on Interstate 10, but this was the first time we were on the river going under the interstate bridge.

Numerous other boats were on the river along with a few people on jet skis.

In my younger days, jet skis sounded good, but I've come to enjoy a slower, steady pace.

My wife and I need to get out and enjoy local scenery a little bit more.

Next post: Sept. 17, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

San Francisco -- memories with music

My first adult remembrance of San Fancisco was back in 1973. My family, wife and two-year-old son, was on a 21-day, three-week, 7,000-mile trip from our home in Ocean Springs, MS. 

We made our way to Glacier National Park, then headed over toward the Pacific and went down the middle of Oregon into California.

The beauty of the panorama when crossing the Golden Gate bridge was astounding. We only spent one night in the city (our schedule was pretty tight). But I knew we would return. And we have done so more than 20 times over the past 40 years.

I finally got serious about making a movie on my computer which I have had for three years. And the following video brings together a number of pictures which I managed to capture during our visits.


Next post: Sept. 10, 2013