Seuss and Ships in San Diego

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February is Museum Month in San Diego, California. Macy’s department stores sponsor this month long event offering fifty-percent off most museum entrance fees to any holder of its free museum month card. But, would they be interesting? Would they keep my interest? Or would I just wish in each moment that I was outside on an adventure somewhere or at the beach? Trust me, I am as surprised at the experience as you are!

We’ve been privy to a few museums in our stay so far in what I’m quickly understanding wins the token name of ‘America’s finest city’. We spent time at the San Diego Museum of Art watching as a man whose name is synonymous with philanthropy in this city donated to the art community; a brand new painting. We also met up with one of Mat’s friends from high school and his family to spend a day as pirates and submariners at the Maritime Museum. There we boarded vessels of all types, tried our hands at swabbing the deck and to my mother’s dismay, slithered our way through the tiny crawl spaces of both an American and Soviet submarine-now that was cool.

'I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees'-Dr. Seuss

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not” -The Lorax

Two of my favourite museums thus far were visited in February-the month of no excuses when it comes to museums. San Diego History Center is showcasing an exhibit that would make anyone who is a child at heart smile from the inside out. Ingenius! The World of Dr. Seuss fills two rooms in the museum with images of your youth that live on forever. Listen with Horton, snack with Sam, find joy with the Grinch or try your hand at truffula trees and learn how to save the environment with The Lorax. Whether you were a star-bellied sneech fan, worshipper of Yertl the Turtle or still can’t help but recite something about one fish, two fish-everyone in that room was smiling! Decorated in Seuss-worthy whimsical style, walls of various colours were outfitted with famous Seussian sayings by some of your life-long favourite characters.

“I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, which is what I do. And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” -Dr. Seuss

Mat with the cat in the hat

Children sat colouring letters to send to Santa that they then stuffed in Grinch like sacks while others sat on comfy beanbag chairs reading their own favourite Dr. Seuss stories. Signing the guest book reminded me of so many moments where my own parents sat reading me tales of Solla Sollew (‘where they never have troubles, at least very few’) or dreaming of the part I’d play if I ran my own circus (‘the Circus McGurkus;). Perhaps that’s where I get some of my imagination and love of rhyming-who knows, but either way, I couldn’t stop smiling.

Ingenius-The World of Dr. Seuss

Throughout the two rooms, there were real images of Theodore Geisel, his story of how he became ‘Dr. Seuss’, images of his picturesque scenery atop a tower overlooking a panoramic view of La Jolla and stories of his life’s work amidst a backdrop of people who didn’t believe he could. He even shares how he wound up drawing so many interesting characters, because he didn’t feel he could draw people and how he was and always would be a cartoonist. The smaller room, which shows a bit of a darker side to some of his work, is geared to the adult who wants to learn more about the man than the child who wants to live amongst his characters. Whether you know every word to every story, have ever had ‘a wocket in your pocket’, eaten ‘green eggs and ham’ or ever gleaned a lesson from one of his infectious stories-a few minutes or hours in this exhibit and you’ll be retelling your ‘oh the places you’ll go’ story to someone else. Eyes widened, spirits soared, laughter ensued and hearts smiled in the one hour we spent with characters and books that without question feel like family.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple” -Dr. Seuss

at the USS Midway-San Diego, California

Our other foray into San Diego museums saw us ask permission to go aboard a large floating aircraft carrier-the USS Midway. Situated on the Embarcadero not far from Little Italy, the first ship too large for the Panama Canal beckons guests aboard. Once on board, guests are given an audio guide that interacts with coordinated numbers placed around the decks. Never would I have imagined that I could spend four hours at a museum. Perhaps it was the fact that it’s a NAVY ship, perhaps it’s the fact that it sits on water, perhaps it’s the fact that it’s the middle of February and we were wandering around outside jacketless or the fact that there were so many things to wander through, touch, photograph and see that made it so interesting. Docents, in yellow hats, provide tours, answer and encourage questions from guests of all ages. Many are former military members themselves while others are civilian volunteers – all have gone through a strenuous informative course to be able to freely converse with hundreds, if not thousands of visitors daily.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” -Dr. Seuss

From the chow line to the galley, the laundry room to sickbay and the chapel to officer’s quarters; the Midway winds through alleyways, up and down ladders and through corridors that only a masterful sailor could maneuver with ease. On this floating city, it is altogether obvious how very much life happens amidst the jobs of the military and the honorable service provided. And then there’s the roof.

Roof deck of the USS Midway

For anyone who ever wanted to get up close and personal to aircraft carriers, this is a dream come true. Dozens of fighter planes and helicopters of all kinds line the sides of the deck available for the waiting clicks of cameras and the wide-eyed joy of passersby. In the center of the deck, docents provide specific information regarding flight, take off and specifics of in the air maneuvers, including fueling. Towards the back of the deck, you can stand just next to the serviceman who has the very important job of assisting in the launching of these fabulous vehicles that go from zero to insanity in under two seconds with only two hundred and fifty feet of land. Talk about Top Gun’s ‘need for speed’.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” -Dr. Seuss

Launching flight-USS Midway

Lastly, to get into Admiral and Captain’s country, otherwise known as the tower, visitors queue for a tour of the area. Finally arriving at the top after climbing three ladders, guests are treated to a tour of the Radio room, the Captain’s cabin and the Admiral’s quarters. It’s amazing to see the varied quarters from the enlisted all the way through Admiral and everywhere in between. It’s incredible to see even a piece of the action and such a significant part of history.

All aboard-the USS Midway

February in San Diego has treated us well. Sun, sand, new beaches to visit, fish tacos, meet up groups, new memories and thanks to the folks at Macy’s…a few extra museums under our belts. Here’s to even more adventures in and around this special city. In the famous words of Dr. Seuss…

“You’re off to great places, today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…..get on your way!”-Dr. Seuss

On board the USS Midway

A San Diego Weekend to Remember

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Embrace the sun – Soak up the Vitamin D – Live in the moment – Go outside and play

These phrases all bounced around my head this weekend. As photos of another Northeastern blizzard bombarded my Facebook pages, we jumped head first into San Diego’s outdoor lifestyle. Except for the time we lived in Melbourne, I can’t remember another February that I was this active. All of my other Februarys have been spent huddled under blankets, swaddled under layers and layers of thermals and sweats and drinking as much tea as my bladder could handle (amidst one week of fabulous sunshine). This one is different. This one we get to be outside. It may seem silly, but for me, the weather makes all the difference.

fun on Valentine's Day at the Melbourne Zoo

My new friend, Kara, made a comment the other day about seasonal effects disorder. Whether either of us has it, we’ll never know, but she understands. So many that we’ve both spoken with discuss a need for natural light, the benefits of the sun’s rays and a yearning to spend as much time by the water as possible. This entire city speaks my language and for some reason, that weather allows me to go outside and ‘just be’. This weekend, this Valentine’s Day, this February has been just that…time to go outside and play! Our social life is only ever this busy when we pack an entire year of visits into two weeks in Melbourne. It’s a little hard to believe this is my life right now!

It started Thursday evening. Working with a new experiential learning and event company, I spent an afternoon outside in La Jolla on a scavenger hunt while Mat enjoyed one of San Diego’s well-known craft brewery tours at Green Flash Brewing Company. Friday night we went to our first ever Meet Up with the Commonwealth Expats meet up group. A bunch of people met at Shakepseare’s Pub and Grille to watch the Rugby Sevens and enjoy some of the best fish and chips we’ve had this side of the pond. There was a Brit married to a Texan who have now both been living in San Diego for almost a decade, our friends who spent the last few years in Hong Kong and us all gabbing about this chosen city of ours and the work-life balance it inspires.

Koala at the San Diego Zoo

Now hopefully, without accruing hate mail from my friends on the East coast, I will tell you that we spent Valentine’s Day outside in the hot sunshine. A visit for me to the travel and adventure show for the press section in the morning, a fabulous home-cooked brunch on our terrace and a great afternoon with our friendly resident animal mates at the San Diego Zoo. What followed was a dinner of devil’s food cupcakes and whipped cream to round out the day! Sunday also had more of San Diego favourites. It included a walk through the Gaslamp District, the cobble-stoned streets of Little Italy and the Embarcadero. Next we spent a few hours at the Convention Center for all things travel at the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show and then a celebration of fun at the Lunar New Year Festival in the car park of Qualcomm Stadium (where the Chargers play). And then, as if the day didn’t want to be outdone, we wandered around the shops at Fashion Valley-an entire mall area made outside. Seriously, February in flip-flops and a jumper in the evening-what is this, Australia?

festive food at the Lunar Festival at Qualcomm Stadium

Lincoln’s birthday found us wandering the boardwalk of Coronado and having lunch with our toes in the sand while listening to the waves crash in front of the Hotel Del. These are just some of the reasons I love travel (and San Diego, of course). If you want sunshine, head to sunshine, if you want cold then you should head towards snow-capped mountains for your fun. Travel allows you to choose where you want to be and if you’re lucky, even for how long you’d like to stay. For us, we chose warm over cold and sunshine over wintry mix but as always, to each their own.

Coronado Beach, Coronado Island, San Diego, California

This Valentine’s Day I count myself lucky to spend it with the one I love in a space that makes us happy. And as always, I am grateful for so very many things and feeling blessed often. Wherever you spent this past weekend-with whomever or without, doing all or nothing…I hope you found time to take care of yourself and find a bit of happy.

Happy February!

Travel and adventure in downtown San Diego

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This weekend was the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show. Attending as press, I was allowed in Saturday morning for a one-hour session filled with a meet and greet, photo sessions, activities and an early look at the travel options available.

at the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show

I could actually walk to a travel show from my apartment-so that was already an exciting start to a lovely Valentine’s Day. Press time here had about fifteen people ready and willing to jump straight into a weekend of travel. We were greeted by the Founder and CEO of Travel and Adventures shows, Jon Golicz. After riding in on a Segway, he hopped off and shared the theory behind these shows that dare travelers to gather and learn about their travel dreams. He told his listeners that in all of their studies, they’ve found that many of today’s travelers ‘like to plan as much as take their trip”. Hopefully, by visiting this travel and adventure show, they’ll not only be able to create that next holiday, but without a doubt, remember it!

at the San Diego Convention Center

This weekend, hundreds flocked to the Convention Center in the heart of downtown San Diego for this travel show. In its second year, this is the only show of its kind in town. Featuring well-known travel speakers such as Rick Steves and Pauline Frommer, the halls of the convention center were abuzz with all things travel. Including ‘exhibits from vacation destinations, hotels and resorts, travel gear manufacturers, as well as a rock-climbing wall, scuba-diving pool and other hands-on activities’-travel was the word of the weekend. (Media Release)

with Pauline Frommer at the Travel and Adventure show in San Diego, California

In his own words, he introduced our next speaker as the ‘first lady of travel’ and we knew we were in the presence of a travel great. Pauline Frommer, of Frommer Publishing, shared a bit of what she’s not only learned in travel, but would be sharing in her talk later that weekend.  She told us that ‘one out of eleven people’ in the US works in the travel industry. As the editorial director of the family-owned travel company, and an author in her own right, Ms. Frommer told her audience, ‘the truth about travel is that it’s constantly changing’. If I thought being invited as press to a travel show was great, this was an extraordinary treat!

When asked to ‘bullet point’ her thoughts on the top five trends in travel today, she was ready with information, specific facts and an effortless ability to perfectly articulate her thoughts. Her top five trends in travel today are:

Strength of the Dollar

Ubiquity of the Cell Phone (How it will change the way we travel)

Sharing Economy (How sharing can benefit travelers; Air B & B has ‘more beds than all hotels combined’, UBER in many cities is ‘putting taxis out of business’ and how those using Globalfreeloaders.com and Couchsurfing.com benefit regardless of whether they’re the traveler or the one opening their home to others. Since all guests and hosts are reviewed, she said that everyone ‘has to be on his/her best behavior’.)

Explosion of River Cruising

Shorter Vacations (That sadly or otherwise, many Americans are ‘too scared to take time off from work or get less time’ – more are choosing a few long weekends a year in lieu of larger domestic or overseas travel.)

A wander through the wide aisles of the show found me at the San Diego Segway Tours area ready to try my hand at a two-wheeled version of fun – and fun it was! This was one of those ‘don’t tell my mother’ moments until it’s done and all of my fingers and toes were well intact! After spinning around in circles for a few minutes, my hands and feet got the hang of it and I managed to zigzag through the evenly spaced bright orange cones without falling on my face-automatic success!

On a Segway at the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show

Placing my feet steadily on ground again, I took some time to chat with members of tourism boards from New Zealand, safari tour guides from Namibia and the park rangers of Joshua Tree National Park. Welcoming, friendly and available were all words that sprung to mind. As I wandered, I was handed a bright red Travel Channel tote bag to carry all of my newfound books, business cards and guides including a new book Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey (written by a local San Diegan) that I’m looking forward to reading.

I’m honored to have been able to attend to the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show as press. Whether you found your favourite trip, tried your hand at the rock wall, tasted your way through culinary travels or just wandered your way through ‘the world’ for a few hours, travel certainly took center stage at the Convention Center this weekend. Here participants really could plan and dream. Regardless of where you wind up, India or Arizona, South Africa or Yosemite; travel awaits and the personal journey is priceless.

Who’s Going to The San Diego Travel and Adventure Show?

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Known as ‘the finest city’ in the US, San Diego, California is winning me over with its sunny blue skies, waterfront surrounds, yoga everywhere, work/life balance and can do attitude. And then there’s the travel aspect. Within a week of being here we had connected with bloggers and travelers sharing tales of life both domestic and international. The ‘travel mindset’ is present here and we’ve been lucky to find a few kindred spirits. Many we’ve interacted with share our belief that travel changes you from the inside out. That same idea is showcased by the designers of this weekend’s Travel & Adventure Show in San Diego – the only major travel show in the area. Taking place at the Convention Center on both Saturday and Sunday, this multi-faceted event offers guests a ‘journey around the world’. Read the rest of this entry

It’s All About ‘The Happy’!

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“What’s happening, Will?” “It’s the wave of change, Bill! We’ve got to get on the ride.” “Fascinating-what is it? “I have no idea.” “What’s it for?” “Perhaps, it’s a momentary relief from the existential terrors of existence.” “Oh-what?” “It brings out my happy!” -Happy Feet 2 

Coronado Island-San Diego, California

So, it’s now been just about one month in sunny, San Diego. I can’t even believe it. The air is easy to breathe, the sun is out most every day, people are outside everywhere and shoes are a thing of the past. Recently, I made a friend, joined a yoga studio and got a freelance gig. The husband is happily consulting. Our social life has been more active in the past three weeks than it has in years (except for our time in Melbourne), and that’s including the Long Beach summer season. We’ve been hiking in state parks, had picnics on the sand, been to travel industry dinners, caught happy hour at a local bar and watched the Super Bowl outside. We’ve had a dinner date with new friends, visited the Maritime Museum with some old friends, took in an art opening with San Diego’s major players and have grabbed more than our fair share of southern California’s vitamin D. How is this my life? Read the rest of this entry

Traveling ‘Home’

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Home: Azores Beach, Long Beach, NY

Travel changes the meaning of home. For so much of my youth, home meant a house. One house, on one specific street filled with mementos of life lived. Everything led to and from that one abode, its special meanings and the lives growing inside. Rooms accumulated things, celebrations took place and memories were created, all in that ranch on Long Island. Growing up, no matter when you left, you could always go home. What happens when you age, leave that one place you used to call home and have to create one of your own? What happens when home starts to take on greater meaning than an apartment or house and you feel that you could live in more than one place for unspecified amounts of time? What happens when you feel at home in more than one spot, or if to you, a person or pieces of nature become home? Who says you can’t go home? Bon Jovi returns to New Jersey, Billy Joel revisits his Long Island roots-but now I’m finding that the meaning of home is constantly changing. Read the rest of this entry

Southern California Livin’

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We’ve now been in our apartment for almost two weeks and I already feel like a local. The landscape has already changed and we both can already feel our blood thinning with the sunshine. Having time to spend together, investigate our new surroundings while seeing just about everything as a new adventure is precious. Just going for a walk in the morning has become something to which we both look forward. We’ve shopped at the local stores, hit state parks for hiking and have become regulars at our closest farmers market. Read the rest of this entry

Welcome to San Diego

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Welcome to San Diego!

It’s done. Our three and a half week cross-country road trip has landed us in San Diego, California. This journey was more than accommodations, food, photos and ticks on a map. This trip, that I’ve always wanted to do, proved even more meaningful than I had first thought. Yes, we traveled through twenty-two states, visited many gorgeous national parks, sang with country music stars at the Grand Ole Opry and celebrated Christmas with thousands in Las Vegas, but still, it was much more. Read the rest of this entry

National Parks, Forests and Canyons…Mother Nature’s Magic!

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Now, we all know, I’m a water girl. There’s not an ocean you could show me that I would dislike. Pop me on a body of sand; add in some salty sea air, the crush of white caps of waves on the shoreline and a heavy dose of Vitamin D and I’m one happy girl. Like in all travel, it seems that the internal learning is sometimes greater than the external and I for certain, have learned on this trip. Who knew I’d be taken with features of land?

Knowing we’d have the opportunity to visit national parks across the country, we purchased the national parks annual pass. For $80, access is granted to your vehicle for national parks and countless other national entities for an entire year. The first week or so of our journey was mainly cities and large swaths of land dotted throughout by cattle, farmlands and changing scenery but even more amazing bits of natural beauty was yet to come. Read the rest of this entry

Wish for Awesome!

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Happy New Year!

On the 1st of January 2014, I officially left the land of education after fifteen years in the classroom. Jumping into event planning and travel writing with both feet, 2014 has been filled with new adventures, new challenges, new friends, and new opportunities. On this last morning of 2014, as I sit overlooking the San Diego marina in a city I hope will be a new home for awhile, I count myself incredibly lucky. I am lucky to be healthy, lucky to have supportive family and friends, lucky to have the freedom to take this leap and so very lucky to be able to do it all with my best friend. This year we traveled near and far, experienced new and favourite places, met some amazing people, helped in our own way, believed in ourselves, challenged fear, developed greater strength, changed perspectives, did our best to find our happy, and have gone in search of sunshine. This year I’ve celebrated smiles, magic, milestones, hugs, moments, people, adventure, hope, kindness, courage and love. I can’t wait for the wonder 2015 holds. For 2015, let’s all wish for awesome! Read the rest of this entry