The price of no vacations

I have not been ‘inspired’ to write anything these last many months as they have been tumultuous and heartbreaking; a fractured nose complete with concussion, the passing of my father (leaving me an orphan), my 9 year relationship dissolved, and facing the holidays for the first time without parents.

It is time to heal, push forward and grasp the limited time I have here – so no more sadness, time for the vacation updates….

It is no surprise to any one who knows me that I love to travel. I am proud to say that I am not a ‘tourist’ but rather a ‘traveler’ blending in with the locals as best I can by researching the area and culture, food and fun. The latest and greatest was a 10-day Christmas extravaGANZA to Paris with Goose.

We had both been to Paris before, me with my parents just out of high school and she with her high school french class, but this trip together was amazing.

 

We did hit the hot spots, Eiffel Tower (where we had our Christmas dinner complete with an out of this world bottle of Champagne! Merry Christmas to us!) Arc d’Triumph, and Notre Dame (where I lost my phone on the bus and had to spend half the afternoon tracking it down and explaining that the case that holds the phone says “don’t touch my phone” could be considered ironic…let’s ask Alanis…)

     

The Louvre was a bit disappointing as it was overcrowded with pushy souvenir sales people. They are hard to ignore and completely take away from the magic that surrounded us. We also walked to the Moulin Rouge – did not attend a performance as there was much more interesting things to do, see, and eat!

           

YUM – Charcuterie at Le Chat Noir – made a meal of it! and dessert oh my!

          

Have to get the selfies in – in front of Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame.      

Simply an amazing trip to add to the collection of travels and adventures we have had together… and always more to come, much more.

So to get to the title of this post – the price of no vacations — it is the stolen memories… the laughs, the adventures, the awkward conversations in broken languages, the bond created during the fantastic experience… this is the price of no vacations because it never happened.

Fool me once, shame on you Vineyard… fool me twice…..

Little colored houses in the Vineyard

Little colored houses in the Vineyard

It is not often I give someone or something a second chance; I am damn good at reading people and places. But Martha’s Vineyard – wow you got me!   MV – 2, Me – 0.

The first time was an overnight get away with the ‘man’ as the MV high season was coming to a close. They could not get us off the island fast enough. Plenty happy to take our money, but actually expect the hostess to greet us with a ‘Hello’ at the restaurant, well that was just too much to ask apparently.

We even took the bus tour where the guide pointed out every wall of bushes and trees and what high profile celebrity had their home behind it, which could not be seen, but their have a fantastic landscaper. The bus rolled up into a parking lot for a potty break and my guy leans over and says, hey look it David Letterman. No Iie. A small fact that eluded the guide which goes to support the theory they are just not that interested in having you visit. That was about 6 years ago.

Friends tell me I did not give the island a fair chance, that there is so much to do I just HAVE to go back. Well Goose had never been so why not change up the company AND the time of year.

Only for the fact that she was with me did I have a good time –  but that being said, I could be tied up in an abandon warehouse bathroom, lying on the tile floor with a crazy ass clown on a tricycle who ‘wants to play a game’ and laugh my ass off.

Me and Goose on the high waves of Nantucket Sound

Me and Goose on the high waves of Nantucket Sound

Goose you are a life saver! Martha’s Vineyard… I fart in your general direction. The.End.

Looking to build a birch bark canoe? Who isn’t?

photo by VictoriaG.

photo by VictoriaG.

If I said it once, I said it a million times…. If left to my own devices 300 years ago, I would have easily starved to death and eventually froze to death if I actually did survive.  Who am I kidding, I have the tools constantly surrounding me and still wouldn’t think to slice bread.

To look back as see how people not only lived but thrived and created something from nothing blows me away! Take this small carved sculpture for instance.

One Man's Flute... photo by VictoriaG

One Man’s Flute… photo by VictoriaG

First, I wouldn’t have a sharp object to create it with – that goes without saying even though I actually said it…  I would be just banging rocks together in hopes it would take some sort of shape. But the Mayan and Aztec people (as did other cultures) carved this piece of clay into a shape (animal, diety, etc.) and made a musical instrument. Seriously? Overachiever!

It is called an Ocarina (some of the pieces on display date back over 4,000 years ago!), and it is a type of flute if you will. Depending on where, how many, and the shapes(s) of the hole(s) or slits, would determine the sound, which then would determine in what context it would played. Example: Some ocarinas were made for a parade-type atmosphere and gave the sharp shrill of what we would today call a police-whistle. Others were a soft, mid to low hoot, almost like wind blowing through wooden tubular wind chimes or a lonely call of a bird, simply relaxing you into a trance. We could have sat listening to him play for hours.

Photo by VictoriaG

Ocarinas – Photo by VictoriaG

ocarina

 

We watched a YouTube Video displayed at the Harvard Museum of History, the Latin American scholar José Cuellar played different ocarinas and explain their sounds and beauty. If you search for “breathing life into an ancient instrument” you will see it and others videos that he has made on the subject.

Before we move on, let me ask. Who the heck was on the archaeological dig that found these small clay pieces and decided it was a good idea to blow into them to see if it was a musical instrument? My first guess would have been a nifty little remembrance knick-knack for the one room home; musical instrument, not so much. But I digress.

Moving onto the Native American wing, we find more mind blowing creativity: building a canoe from white birch trees. We are not going to do the bare bones version of carving a canoe from one (hopefully) large tree trunk. These particular natives went full out and pieced them together, soaking and bending the ribs where needed. Again, remember I am barely surviving on the berries I have picked praying they won’t poison me and along comes some smarty-panties native throwing together a mini cruise ship to travel downstream. (sense some jealousy here?!)

how to build a canoe

Lastly, (only for this writing as I was not able to completely view the museum) we leave you with the ledger drawings of the Native Americans. Left not only on cave walls, teepees, and clothing, the Native Americans achieved something the Europeans did not; action drawings. They were even creative enough to show the ‘before and after’ in their photos in way to communicate the actual event. The one major historic lesson I learned from this section – Native Americans, at this juncture in time, had no written language; it was completely verbal (mind blown). No poetry, no stories to read in bed, no sending a letter to the next tribe asking for an extra cup of ground corn at their earliest convenience, nothing. Think how often you write (or these days, type) something down in order to remind yourself (a grocery list, on a calendar, who is picking up the kids and when…etc.) Our trip to the museum was two weeks ago and the simple statement of not having a written language sent me to dig deeper in my own tiny brain and try to understand that way of life. Let’s not get me started on their beautiful regard for life, their songs layered with notes hitting peaks and valleys, their simplicity and the value they gave everything and everyone around them….

Native American Ledger Art

Native American Ledger Art

Mothers come in all shapes, sizes, and species

familyouting

Come near my babies and get bitten! Try me you little brat! Where the hell are YOUR parents!?

Another adventurous outing for Goose and me – to the Zoo! Not just any zoo mind you, the one we would visit year after year when she was growing up (by now we should get a freebie); Roger Williams Zoo in Providence RI.

Whenever we get together we narrate the situation between us and then laugh our butts off.

I am waiting for my audience

I am waiting for my audience

showoff1

It’s about time humans! NOW I can show off!

We have always loved it there for it size, variety of species from around the world, cleanliness, and allowing families and children of all backgrounds to visit by keeping the price very affordable.

In the past the zoo seemed to grow just a little every year adding more exhibits and upgrading those that were already there. The petting zoo is now a walk-in type where children can pet, feed and groom the mini goats. Walk through Africa, South America, and different parts of Asia.  We even took advantage of the few volunteer booths that informed us of elephant poop, their teeth and how they grow and the anteater’s claws and snout – sometimes the little things are so interesting!

I have to be honest, we originally went to the booth because the women behind the tables were alone and looked as though they thought no one was interested in what they had to say. Well, we made sure to bring them some ‘business’ staying and asking questions until other visitors saw there was something going on, and well, our job was done.

flossingtime

Flossing time

lunchtime

What the hell is grass doing in the air??

Victoria's Hungry

FEED ME

 Always an adventure, always a great time, always enjoying our time together as mother/daughter, best friends, and partners-in-crime.

It’s All About the Latitude

latitude

All About Latitude

It occurred to us on this particular trip that we may travel to Montreal more than we think, as the border guard asked, “are you bringing any gifts to family members?” (we had never been asked that one before…). That being said, this was the first time we had the chance to stop and take the latitude photo.

It never ceases to amaze me that the midpoint between the North Pole and equator was only a mile outside the Canadian border. Good thing this is was not a question on a game show for a million dollars, I would have easily said someplace around Virginia (currently breaking out the map…) I mean come on, I cannot be the only person that is surprised by this information (help me out dear readers!)

drinkswithpoutine

The actual mission of this trip had two motives: two days of rest and relaxation and to find and devour at least two of the the 30 flavors of poutine at La Banquise – both were completed I am very happy to say.

We are poutine obsessed and proud of it. With fierce determination, we walked the 45 minutes and with rationalizing the calories that we had burned off, we ordered drinks too (we were parched don’t judge..)

So many poutine combinations…. so little time…. we will be back… sooner than later…

Food Porn (that's what the kids call it, rights?)

Happy Birthday to Me

DSC01958Quebec City

If you didn’t get the hint by now, I will just be blunt, I love to travel. (gasp!) So when it came down to my birthday this year, I wanted out; out of the country that is. So pack up the SpiceGurl Mini and off to Quebec City for some Maple Sugar Pie and all the poutine my stomach can handle. You haven’t had Maple Sugar Pie OR poutine before?! I am not sure we can be friends. Imagine the most perfect pecan pie, without the pecans just melting in your mouth… not sugary, but sweet, smooth, with a hint of butter…I can’t believe I fit into the Mini for the ride home after these four days….

Although not new to Quebec City, walking for me, is the only way to see everything a city has to offer (or public transportation if the city is just too spread out). As you can see from the photo above, this ‘joker’ jumped out at me in the alley and I had to get a photo. He didn’t seem to mind.

Although the Frontenac Hotel is plush, and if you are able to obtain a room facing the St. Lawrence, the view is indeed beautiful, but I prefer the cozy-homey feel to a small hotel. We had a great room on the main road just inside the ‘wall’ and with an amazing price. Open brick walls, wonderfully comfy bed, super clean, and the ceiling to floor side-by-side double window that open to a small courtyard – that’s for me! (I really wanted to just throw them open and start singing as if I were part of a movie, but the howling dogs would have given me away…)

Shopping is always a must so I bought a cute tunic dress in my favorite boutique found on the very lower level of Quebec. If I lived in the area I would be completely broke, as I love every piece of clothing in the shop and it all fits perfectly!

shopping
Lower Quebec City for shopping!

I had to take my hot boyfriend down the funicular because I do not know of too many places where you can have the opportunity to ride a ‘sideward elevator’ as I call it. As you can see this is no joke, its a rapid decent from upper to lower city, but the view is beautiful.

funicular
funicular to lower Quebec

Headed out to dinner one evening we found a Halloween scene and I thought this mummy was very creative! (Halloween seems to follow me wherever I go!)

DSC01959
It’s a light post that is covered as a mummy so it is much larger than it looks.

Sadly, I did not get to practice any of my French (sad face) although who knows, I may have spouted an insult and wound up in jail, so just as well.

If you have a chance to visit Quebec City, go…do it! Historical, romantic, food that will wake up even the sleepiest of taste buds, shopping….it has something for everyone.

 

Halloween for 31 days!

hauntedhouse
What?! Is there someone behind me?

It’s October in New England, more specifically Salem, so how could Goose and I NOT go and enjoy one of the 31 days of festivities?

That’s right! Be very jealous! The spooky scary (and in this case a bit corny) festivities of Halloween last for the full month of October, and we enjoy every bit of it.

Halloween is our favorite holiday. It’s the mystery, the unknown, the possibility of life beyond and not in the demonic way but simply our energy reforming into something else and lasting forever. Believe it, be a skeptic, don’t believe… we don’t judge, we are all here doing our own thing, and its all good…this just happens to be our thing.

So enjoy are few pictures from the most Halloweenie place in New England…

mynewfriend
I made a new friend this day.

witchwitch
“Hmm, you would look like a good add to the recipe…come a bit closer”

pickingthenose
Who says you can’t pick your friend’s nose?

misbehaving  And this my friends, is what happens when you misbehave….

Happy Halloween everyone, Happy New Year to those that celebrate, and of course –

Blessed Be.