For those of you who are remembering that I promised to share with you my most favorite road sign EVER in an upcoming post, please be assured that I have not forgotten my promise. That road sign will appear in the near future along with the next installment of our National Parks Trip #2 story. Before I get to that, I wanted to share with you some random reflections about a few different topics or happenings that have been on my mind this week. I don’t know about you but, if I don’t write it down immediately, it will be gone forever!
"Miscellanea." What a delightful word! It sounds to me like it should be the magical town where all singular socks end up, all lost reading glasses convene and all the little screws from the whatchamacallit that Alan said not to lose can be found. In my mind, the little town of Miscellanea might be found in the middle of the wheat fields of the Midwest or on a remote mountain plateau in the Rockies or even in the Alaskan outback, reachable only by float plane and dog sled. But, alas, that’s not what Merriam-Webster says. Merriam-Webster defines “miscellanea” as “a collection of miscellaneous objects or writings.” And that’s exactly what we have here today.
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A few days back, I was over at My Retirement Project, reading Tamara’s recent blog post in which she reflected on the past seven years of her retirement (link HERE). One of the things she mentioned was volunteering and guilt instantaneously flooded my mind. Wow! I’ve been retired for two years and I’ve made absolutely NO effort to volunteer my time. What’s up with that?! At some point, all four of us had been involved in volunteer activities. Years ago, Alan had been a member of our local rescue squad. Ryan had joined our volunteer fire department the day he turned 16 and went on to win the Firefighter of the Year award for his Company a couple of years later. Kyra has volunteered her skills as a makeup artist at both a local high school’s musical theater production and at a non-profit’s fundraiser. As I spent a bit of time thinking about my current lack of volunteer activities, I realized two things: (1) Despite the fact that I escaped from the workforce a little better than two years ago, I didn’t wind up with 40 hours of free time each week. Due to personal business commitments and projects, plus the fact that our daughter was a High School junior involved in sports and planning for college when I retired, I found that life was still pretty hectic. (2) I became involved in the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) scene in a major way when Ryan entered Kindergarten and remained heavily involved until Kyra graduated from High School - and my kids are five years apart in age. At times, I was both the Parent Coordinator for the High School parent group, as well as the Coordinator of the district-wide parent group that included a total of five different PTAs. So, you wanna know what? (That’s what a little friend of Kyra’s always used to say – “Wanna know what?”) By the time I’d completed 18 years of serious PTA-ing, I was pretty much burned out and needed the break. Now that Kyra’s educational plans have been finalized and the major construction project at our rental property is just about done, it will be interesting to see what other activities call my name in the future.
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Whenever Alan and I are out and about exploring (or “poking around” as we like to call it), we’re always on the lookout for beautiful scenery, unusual cloud formations and the birds and animals that share the natural world with us. We live in an area that’s rich in wildlife and we love spotting all of God’s critters wherever we roam.
|Mama Duck and her babies were so well camouflaged that I almost stepped on the little guys!|
A little more than ten years ago (on August 9, 2007), the bald eagle was removed from the list of Endangered Species. Twenty years ago, in our area of the northeast, the spotting of a bald eagle would have made front page news. These days, sightings are much more common and the bald eagle seems to be flourishing along the rivers and around the lakes and reservoirs here. In my mind, there is not a more impressive bird and we are thrilled to see one when we’re on an excursion. Just this past Friday, Alan needed to test something on our powerboat, so we trailered the boat to the Hudson River and set out for a good part of the day. Alan had been telling me that he had been seeing bald eagles more and more frequently on the river and, sure enough, we were privileged to see one soaring across our bow, and at least a half dozen others crossing the river at various points.
|Getting water spots on lenses is an occupational hazard when boating|
Sadly, for Alan, although he has been lucky enough to spot a large number of eagles this year, he has been disappointed with his lack of black bear sightings. Ryan regaled us with his tale of a Mama with two “teeny tiny” cubs. And Kyra and I have each seen two individual bears crossing our road at various times. I won’t call it a sighting, but the most unusual “occurrence” was the morning that I hear a young cub loudly expressing its distress as he or she traveled from west to east in the woods behind our home. I could hear what I assume was Mama crashing through the brush on the heels of the cub. I have no idea whether the cub was yelling because Mama was mad or if they were both on the run from something else entirely, but I have to admit that I sat straight up in bed at 5:05 a.m. when I heard that. And where was Alan, you ask? Well, of course, he was several hours away at our rental property, so he missed that bear adventure, as well. (If you would be interested in hearing what a bear cub’s distress cry sounds like, check out this link (HERE). Just be sure your volume isn’t turned all the way up because it will scare the life out of you!
Because we had spent a large part of the day on the river on Friday, it was quite late when we were trailering the boat home – somewhere between dusk and dark – which is a prime time for black bear sightings in our neck of the woods. A little more than a mile from home, we spotted a car stopped on the road. Hmmm, something’s up. Sure enough, right off the road was a black bear that must have just crossed in front of the other car. We stopped. The bear stopped, too. We looked at him. He looked at us. We moved to get a better look and he must have had enough people watching for one night because he turned his back on us and continued wandering through the woods. So now, Alan is happy that he has finally seen his first bear of the year. I wonder what he’d say if I told him I saw Sasquatch last night . . .
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I don’t know about you, but I know I’m guilty of taking hundreds of photographs when we travel. On an extended road trip, that number runs into the thousands. The advent of digital photography made the transition from quality to quantity an inevitable event. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I don’t mind weeding through hundreds of pics to find a few that I really like – better that than to be disappointed that the few photos I took on film didn’t come out as I had hoped. (Right now, my friend Patty is sadly shaking her head at me. Patty still uses her old, faithful Canon AE-1. You go girl!) I tend to use photography for documentation of our trips rather than as a hobby geared toward the expression of creativity. I just don’t have the patience for it. That being said, when I do come up with a good photo, especially if it’s one of the kids or a favorite vacation spot, I struggle with finding the best way to use it.
|One of Alan's favorite photos from Grand Teton National Park|
|And one of mine from Yosemite National Park|
That’s where Sam’s Club Photo Department comes in. (I know there are plenty of other one-stop photo shops out there that do a fine job and I’m sure many of you already have your favorite. I’m not trying to sell you on Sam’s Club; their photo lab just happens to be a good fit for me.) Sam’s offers everything from photo books to canvas prints to soft fabric throws and Christmas decorations. When outfitting the Outdoors RV travel trailer Alan and I bought last year, I decided to forego the plain blue ceramic mugs we had been using in our Jayco and had a couple of colorful 15 oz. mugs printed at Sam’s Club with two of our favorite National Parks photos. Although this time I had simply uploaded our favorite prints, I’m thinking that next time I order these mugs, I might use photo editing software to add the name of the National Park or a favorite quote. Please note that when cropping your photo is required (as it was with these two), with Sam's Club you do have the ability to adjust the cropping yourself. The regular price of those 15oz, single photo mugs is $8.96, but I ordered ours during a 50% off sale, so I spent less than $10 for two of them. Good deal!
|Sam's Club did a much better job creating these mugs . . .|
Another item in the Sam’s Club lineup that I often turn to for preserving vacation memories is their Collage Poster. We currently have a 16” x 20” collage on the side of our refrigerator that contains a collection of 20 favorite pics from the last time our family was camping together at Great Lake Sacandaga. Since I took advantage of the option to add personalized text, the poster reminds us of those days of “Happy Camping at Sacandaga ~ July 2016.” The cost? A mere $6.96 plus tax. Travel and vacation adventures are such a big part of our lives, that I love finding ways to use our photos as visible reminders of our blessings, the good times we’ve had and the memories that are always tucked carefully away in our hearts.
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And speaking of outfitting our ORV Creek Side travel trailer, Alan and I just finished putting up seven absolutely gorgeous prints from Lantern Press that I picked up on Amazon. Six of the seven are National Parks prints, so they’re just perfect for people like us who are National Parks enthusiasts. The seventh print is of Cannon Beach in Oregon, a place near and dear to our hearts since it was included in our itinerary for last year’s National Parks Trip #3. Cannon Beach is also home to Haystack Rock, one of the most Instagrammed locations in Oregon.
|Adding a little color to the "headboard"|
|LOVE these prints!!! Going back for more, yes I am!|
The prints were $12.99 each for a 9” x 12” art print, and the artwork and colors are magnificent. (No, I’m not getting a commission. I just really, really like them!) They’re lightweight and were easily affixed to the wall with Command poster strips. (No, I’m not getting a commission from Command, either.) Alan and I were a little concerned about the curve of the wall at the head of the bed, but we put a poster strip on each corner and they seem to be holding the prints well.
|The wall opposite the bed|
|This cheerful Yosemite print conveniently covers the sticker describing placement of the TV.|
We love this Creek Side and are truly enjoying decorating it to reflect our personalities and our lifestyle. The “lodge look” is a great fit for us. We tend to prefer the colors of nature – the blues of the sky and the waters in the lakes, rivers and oceans; the numerous shades of green that remind us of our favorite forests; the many variations of yellows and golds that make us think of sunny days and quiet morning sunrises; and the rich, warm shades of tan that bring to mind the desert rocks and ocean beaches. The medium browns of our travel trailer are a perfect backdrop to these colors of nature and, between our quilts and the new prints on the wall, we know we’re well on toward making our Creek Side as cozy as a mountain cabin.
|Art prints and posters from Lantern Press had the richest colors.|
Thanks so much for stopping by today and joining me as my mind meandered through a landscape lush with random thoughts! Please do consider sharing your favorite critter sighting or an idea for a great photo or decorating project in the Comment section below.