These Dinosaurs Are Larger Than Life

dinosaurs, T-Rex, prehistoric dinosaurs

                                                                          Dinosaur Land

Looking for inexpensive places to visit before the kids return to school? If you’re planning a trip to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia take time to check out Dinosaur Land. It’s an inexpensive roadside attraction that has been around since 1962, and is a great place for photo ops with the little dinosaur lover. 

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9 Budget Friendly Activities In Virginia Beach

beach activities, Virginia Beach, vacation ideas

As a single mother budgeting has become second nature to me. This year I will be spending a few days in Virginia Beach with my grandchildren instead of taking them to Myrtle Beach as we normally do.  Before I leave for vacation, I search for things to do to ensure we don’t get bored and find activities within my budget.  Unfortunately, many families think they can’t afford a vacation because they have to fund every activity for the entire week. Not true!

There’s more to Virginia Beach than the Atlantic Ocean and miles of sand.  So, the key is to research free and budget friendly things for the family to do before you leave for vacation or your get away. Make a list of Virginia Beach activities and discuss them with your family. If it’s something they aren’t interested in, you still have time to do additional research before you arrive.  I searched the Hampton Roads area, which  includes Norfolk, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Williamsburg and Hampton. There’s something for everybody.  Here’s  9 of my favorite Virginia Beach activities:


1. Naval Station Norfolk 
– See the world’s largest naval base. The base houses 75 ships and 134 aircraft  carriers, cruisers, destroyers, large amphibious ships, submarines, supply ships, airplanes and helicopters. In addition, the tour includes historic homes in the Jamestown, VA area.


2.  Beach Street USA Entertainment – Next, you can find laser and light shows to interactive adventures based on a theme or popular movies. You could be required to unravel a murder mystery, play other games or compete in contests. Also, they have nights where you dress up as characters from movies or watch a movie on the beach. Check out the site for activities of for day.

                                                       photo from Virginia Legends 

3.  Virginia Beach Legend Walk – Free tour of Virginians who have made significant contributions to the country and/or world. Some of the inductee are Arthur Ashe, Patsy Cline, Katie Couric, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson to name a few.  Great way to get a family conversation going on the inductees.








4.  Virginia Beach Amusement Park – The Hurricane, Skycraper, Music Express and Comic Storm are a few rides that you will discover on the boardwalk. Great entertainment for the entire family, and the park offers all day wrist bands too.

 

                                                                                                                 photo from Mt. Trashmore

5.  Mt. Trashmore Park –  Also, a 165 acre park that has 11 picnic shelters of various sizes, 2 volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, playgrounds, a skate park, restrooms, outdoor fitness stations, concessions and fishing awaits you. If you have a driver’s license or other photo ID you can check out badminton equipment, a football, frisbee, horseshoes, volleyball and net, wheelchairs and more.  So, it’s a great way to spend the day away from the beach and enjoy free activities along with a picnic.


                                                                      photo from Jungle Golf 


6.  Jungle Golf  – So, if you love miniature golf check out this 18 hole golf course with an air conditioned snack bar.

                                                                                                              Photo from Ocean Breeze Water Park


7.   Ocean Breeze Water Park  –  Fortunately, the park has over 30 rides, slides, and attractions.  Additionally, it is located approximately 10 minutes from the Virginia Beach ocean front. Parking, sunscreen and inner tubes are free. Trams are also available to help you breeze your way into the park.  Be sure to put this on your list.

 

fireworks, 4th of july


8.  Firework Display –  The firework display is awesome.  The fact that is ocean front makes it even better. So, be sure to check the schedule for dates and times.




9.  Hunt Club Farm – Last, Virginia Beach has plenty of ocean and sand. But, it also has a Petting Zoo and Pony Rides at Hunt Club Farm. They have chickens that are friendly enough to pickup, llamas, goats, peacocks, turkeys and many other animals.  They also offer pony rides, a playground area and shaded tables to enjoy a snack. The farm also sells homemade jams, jellies, soaps, candles and more.  So, be sure to grab a few souvenirs while you’re there.

Finally, the fireworks displays are truly spectacular over the ocean.  Be sure to add this to your Virginia Beach activities.  Additionally, my grandchildren love the petting zoo and pony rides at Hunt Club Farm. The Ocean Breeze Water Park is  a great way to spend the day too.  Adults and kids can enjoy Beach Street USA entertainment.  Most importantly, you can find something for everyone on my Virginia Beach activities list without breaking the bank.

Traveling Solo As A Female

 

females traveling solo, women traveling solo, travel tips for females


Traveling solo as a female can be invigorating. I’ve traveled solo many times for business and several times on a much needed vacation. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve been asked throughout my journeys, “Are you going alone?” “Don’t you have a friend to go with you?” or “You aren’t afraid to travel by yourself, I could never do that.” Lets not forget this one, “Do you get lonely?”

I remember the first time I traveled alone for vacation although I was married.  At the time my daughter was five years old.  So, I decided to head to Los Angeles to visit my sister and her family. It was the first time that my daughter and I had flown. My husband made sure we got on the plane without issues, and the flight to Los Angeles was smooth. The next task was to get our luggage and find my sister.

This too went without incident. I juggled luggage and a 5 year old through a international airport.  We had a great time in Los Angles and the surrounding areas. We made our way back to Washington-Dulles, and it was at that point I was bitten by the travel bug.

I started making my way around the country for my job shortly thereafter. Getting in and out of airports became second nature to me as well as either renting cars and driving in strange cities or hailing taxis to get from point A to B. When you have a job that requires you to travel, your company doesn’t pay for another person to accompany you so you don’t have to go alone. You put on your big girl pants and you conduct business. 

 

               Vacationing in Savannah, GA

I’m no longer married, but I still love to do personal travel. Yes I have friends that I could travel with, but trying to coordinate a week’s vacation with a friend or group of people can be taxing. I’ve been through that experience before, and it was by far worst than anything I’ve encountered while traveling solo.  I made a vow to never go there again.

I’m not one to sit around and wait for another person to get in a position financially to vacation or find the time for a vacation. Most importantly, because a person is alone doesn’t mean they are lonely. There’s a difference.

The people that I have met along the way have been insightful and have impacted my life immensely. On my last trip I met a lady at the airport that I have now become friends with. She called me her angel. I had arrived early at the airport and the United counter had not opened nor did they have a sign posted about their hours.

As a result, I asked if she knew what time the counter opened. She didn’t, but after a small conversation I could clearly see that she was stressed. She was on her way to the states as well; however, she was an inexperienced traveler. We talked and got to know each other and it turns out that she was from South Africa. In fact not far from where I would like to go on safari.

                                                                                  Vacationing In Mexico
It’s funny people see women who travel solo as courageous or brave. Why don’t they see men this way?  Actually I see myself as neither, I’m simply doing what I love to do. As a matter of fact, I believe traveling solo has contributed to making me who I am today. I also believe that every woman should travel solo at least once in their life. Here’s my tips for women traveling alone:

1. It Forces You To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone – It requires you to face your fears. I was quite nervous the first time I traveled alone, but I pushed through and marched forward. As a result, I became quite confident in my abilities to reach a destination and enjoy myself. It is definitely a self-esteem boost.

2. It Broadens Your Perspective  – Traveling allows you to see that that there is another part of the world besides the little piece of paradise that you experience daily.  It allows you to interact with  people outside of your circle and allows you to get to know them and a little about their daily life.  I have met wonderful people along my journey, some I have remained in touch with and some I’ve just had a pleasant conversation with. All remain memorable.

3. It Allows You to Experience Different Cultures and Foods – One of the things that I love most is experiencing different cultures and treating myself to local dishes. Eating out by myself the first time was a little uncomfortable.  However, I decided to take my Kindle and catch up on my reading list. I noticed one lady who was traveling solo doodling.

People find a way to occupy themselves. I’m comfortable enjoying my meals alone and not feeling like an outcast. I’ve had people invite me to join them, but I’ve found I like relaxing and eating alone.  I’m really not into small talk or trying to force a conversation.  Getting on line and retrieving emails is a much better way for me to occupy my time.

4. It Teaches You To Think About Your Safety – Safety should be a major concern when traveling solo. It forces you to listen to your intuition and to become aware of your surroundings. I always do my homework before traveling. I educate myself on taxi fares so I will have some idea of what I should be buying. If I will be driving, I make sure I arrive during the day so I can reach my destination before night fall.

I make it a habit of checking my surroundings, and never venture too far my hotel at night. I always park under lights and always keep my doors locked when driving or in my hotel room. They make peep holes for a reason, I use it before opening the door for room service, maintenance etc.

5. You Return Feeling Like You Can Conquer The World – Traveling solo makes you stronger as a person. It enhances your leadership, planning and organizational skills. It allows you to get in touch with what you like and do they things you want to do. You get to plan and set your own schedule and not feel obligated to anyone. It’s freeing and totally invigorating!

We’ve come a long way baby. We have women who are executives in corporations or own their own businesses and they travel constantly. It seems that traveling for business is acceptable, but there’s still a stigma for a woman traveling alone for personal reasons.  Women want to feel invigorated, and they are refusing to be stifled in any matter.  So, please let us assert our independence.

Virginia Beach Neptune Festival

 

Virginia Beach Neptune Festival, summer activities in Virginia Beach, Things To Do In Virginia, beach activities

 

If you’re looking for an event to attend with the family in the Hampton Roads area, check out the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach, VA. It’s a great way to spend the day with the family, soak up some sun and end the summer with a bang. 

The festival opens September 26, 2015 with a grand parade down Atlantic Avenue and closes October 4, 2015. You can stroll along the boardwalk from 18th – 29th street and find vendors under a sea of white canopies selling their wares and delicious foods. If you decide to attend, find the vendor selling the fish tacos. They are yummy in your tummy. They also sell veggie burgers, gyros, and a variety of other foods that you can expect at a festival.  There are also vendors selling arts, crafts and musicians to entertain you.  
 
What excites me about the festival is the artists who create these amazing sand sculptures. This year’s Neptune Festival will host 32 international sculptors who will flex their muscles and compete for the prize. Sculptors will bring their skills from the USA, Russia, Holland, Canada, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Ireland and Singapore. Big money is up for grabs and big sculptures will rise on the sand. The precision that they use to make the sculptures is incredible. 

It is so much fun to walk along the beach and check out these beautiful works of art. To give you a taste of what you will see here’s a few pictures from prior festivals: 

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10 Tips To Do Beach Safety The Right Way

beach safety, children's beach safety tips



Kids often get excited and need reminders on being safe in and around the water. Although my granddaughter doesn’t like the ocean, she heads toward the water to fill her bucket for sand castles.  As a result, we need to have somebody watching the water and somebody watching her on the beach.  My grandson on the other hand will stay in the water until he shrivels up. We need someone to stay in the water with him until it’s time to take a break. 

Here are the rules that I’ve put together when we’re at the beach.  Our beach safety tips will keep your child out of harm’s way in and out of the water.  As parents it is our responsibility to keep our children safe:  [Read more…]

11 Reasons To Visit St. Thomas

 

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

 
 
I just finished a great vacation in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and I’m looking forward to going back next year. First, at least once a year I head to the Caribbean or some other destination on my bucket list.  And I always return with a positive outlook and feeling relaxed.  I found St. Thomas to be truly breathtaking from the condo that I rented for the week.  I don’t think I could have made a better selection.
As a result, I thought I would share a few of my pictures from my balcony.  So, here’s 11 Reasons Why You Should Visit St Thomas:

1.  First, these are pictures from my balcony, which overlooked the harbor in Charlotte Amalie. The view was just as spectacular during the day as it was at night. St. Thomas is hilly as you can see in the pictures.  As a result, many homes and businesses are built into the hills. Reaching certain destinations can be a struggle if you’re walking around the island. If you decide to visit and rent a car.  As a matter of fact, I would suggest a jeep. You may also want to remember they drive on the opposite side of the road in the Virgin Islands.  If you’re not comfortable with that concept, cabs are plentiful.

 

 


2.  Next, this is a picture of Blue Beard’s Castle named after the Pirate Blue Beard. The castle is actually a tower that sits on a hill. It was used as a look out by Blue Beard for ships coming into the Charlotte Amalie Harbor. The canons used by Blue Beard on still on the premises,  Also, a statute of Blue Beard is pictured below. The tower is open several days a week for tours.

 

 

 

3.  Cruise ships dock in St. Thomas.  The ships actually passed my balcony before docking in the harbor. I captured these pictures after they had docked on the other side of the resort. They arrive around 6:00 – 7:00 am several days a week and normally depart around 9:00 pm that night. Cruise passengers must shop and explore the island between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.

 

 

 

4.  St. Thomas offers world class shopping for the rich and famous as well as unique boutiques and shops for the everyday person. Many of the shops are housed in narrow alley ways, but they also have major shopping areas with stores like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier, Rolex etc.  They are a little to rich for my pocket, but you can also find flea market type items at Vendor’s Plaza.  Nice place to visit for tees, jewelry and other items for souvenirs.

 

5.  Historical churches and landmarks are a big part of St. Thomas too.  This is the world famous Frederick Lutheran Church. It’s the oldest church in St. Thomas and the second oldest church in the western hemisphere.  Also shown is the oldest building in St. Thomas, Fort Christian, built in 1671.

 

6.  Exotic fruits and hot sauces are plentiful. The fruit shown below is actually coconuts in their original state after being picked from the palm trees. What we see in our stores are coconuts that have the shell shown removed. In our stores the coconut has reached its final stage, and contains the coconut meat that we use for cooking.  Fresh mangoes are pictured in the background. I’m a lover of all things hot, so I went in search of unique hot sauces to bring back to the states.  I found the perfect stand at Market Square. The vendor allowed me to taste the sauces before purchasing to ensure I went home with the perfect sauce. I did!    

 

 


7.  I enjoyed watching the yachts of the rich and famous pass my balcony as they headed out to the Caribbean Sea and their next destination.  You see million dollar yachts on television, but to see them in person is truly amazing.  This one has a helicopter on board, see it on the back of the yacht?

 

 

8.  I love eating native dishes when I’m traveling.  Gladys’ Cafe came highly recommended.  So I headed there for lunch. The cafe is downtown and specializes in Ox Tails and curried dishes. They were both amazing. The Cafe is very small.  Pauline was our waitress and the only waitress.  What amazed me the most, the cafe didn’t have a rest room.  In the states, a business would not be able to operate.

Patrons were required to  go outside and several doors down a small building housed the Ladies and Men’s rooms. Most of the establishments are open for either breakfast and lunch or they’re just open for dinner. Those that are open for breakfast and/or lunch close by 5:00 pm. Since many businesses depend on tourists, the money must be spread around.


9.  You can find Green Iguanas in many areas in St. Thomas. The Green Iguana is native to Central and South American.  Wondering how they have populated the Caribbean?  Biologist believe they arrived via hurricanes over the years. This is an older Iguana. They loose their bright green color as they age.  It appeared to be used to people and was enjoying crackers when I spotted it.

 

 

10.  There’s nothing like relaxing with a little steel drum music when your vacationing in the Caribbean. This particular evening we were entertained by a brother and sister team pool side. In addition to Calypso, you will find Reggae which is popular on the island of St. Croix. Salsa dancing in the Virgin Islands is a must too. Brush up on your Salsa moves before you arrive.

 


11.  The supermarket in the background was about a mile from my condo. Some items were reasonable and some caused my mouth to hang open. For example, $9.00 for a gallon of ice cream, $10.00 for a gallon of milk, and $5.00 for a dozen of eggs, but the views are awesome on the island. This balanced everything out for me.      



Last, rent a vehicle. If you’re simply going to cruise around the island, I would recommend a convertible. Remember, the maximum speed limit is 35 mph on the island.

Finally, I wish I could share all of my photos of this trip.  Unfortunately, I was unable to visit several places during my visit. But, I hope to return in the near future.  In my opinion, Turquoise water, beautiful beaches, great food, and nice people make another trip worth it.  In closing, you may also like  18 Places to Travel Off Season.



Tips On How To Pack For Vacation

how to pack for vacation

 

Some people think Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. I agree, but so is packing for a vacation. Previously, I tried to pack everything that I owned.  For some insane reason, I really thought I needed 2 – 3 outfits per day and 10 pair of shoes.  I remember when I used to carry a garment bag.  Seriously, I had bruises on my shoulders because the bag was so heavy.  You think I would have learned, but no I didn’t pack less.  I purchased new luggage and filled that to capacity too. Foolish right!
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I was foolish.  Furthermore, I had the nerve to look at people at the airport and wonder how they traveled with so little.  Now I realize that they were probably looking at me and wondering why I was dragging around my closet.
Want to know what turned me around?  When I traveled for business.  I usually drove myself to the airport for business trips.  Additionally, I was on per diem when I traveled.  As a result, my company would not pay for daily parking.  So, I was forced to park in the satellite parking lot.  When you park in satellite parking, you have to take a shuttle to the terminal to catch your flight.  I soon realized that the world isn’t full of gentlemen who jump up to assist you.  No sir, I was on my own getting everything in the car, out the car, on the shuttle, off the shuttle through the airport and back into my car.
I realized that it was unnecessary for me to take so much.  I had to learn how to pack for vacation and business trips like a pro.  Have you noticed that we’re the cause of the majority of our own problems? The light bulb finally came on and I accepted that I didn’t need half of what I packed. I don’t know what took me so long, but I’m glad I arrived.
Here’s a few of my packing tips and tricks on how to pack for vacation:
1.  Make a list with 4 columns –  One column is for what I have to take like medicines, phone charger, tickets, address for the hotel/resort and confirmation numbers. Another column is for things that I would like to take like my laptop, Kindle, camera, additional batteries etc. The third column is for activities that I have planned and the fourth column is for clothing, shoes and accessories based on what I have planned. I check out sights that I would like to see prior to my trip so I can plan accordingly.
2.  Assess your luggage – Most airlines will allow 2 bags on the plane, so I will have my tote with my laptop and another carry on. The tip here is to place your small purse into your tote.  I use a cross body bag. It holds the essentials: money, hairbrush, keys, lipstick, a credit card, drivers licence and money.  I pack a larger bag in my suitcase.  If you’re checking your bag, remember the weight limit so you don’t incur additional expense.
 
3. Decide on a color theme – I lay everything that I want to take based on the activities on my list. I cut everything down to half and place the excess back into my closet and drawers.  Mixing and matching pieces has become second nature for me.  Using the same shoes, but different accessories will give you the change you need with your outfits.  For example, I take a black skirt that I can wear with 2 different blouses.  I just use different accessories.
I also pack sundresses that I can wear casually or dress up with a necklace, scarf, and cute sandals or pumps. They’re light and don’t take up much space. Leggings are great too. You can wear them under a casual dress or skirt from the above group, pair with a shirt or wear with a tee to lounge around in for the day. Throw in a few pair of shorts and tees. You can pair these with sandals.

4. Pack toiletries in zip lock bags –  Pack body wash, hand wipes, toothbrushes, shampoo, toothpaste, sunscreen, tanning lotion etc. in gallon zip lock bags. Take extra bags with you too. I always have one handy for my wet loofah after showering the  morning on my return trip. It’s never dry enough to just toss in the luggage.  Additionally, zip lock bags are great for your lotions and wipes on the beach or by the pool.

5.  Shoes –  I take a pair of black pumps to wear if I want to dress up, a pair of walking shoes for sight seeing, and a few pair of sandals or two that will go with my final selection of clothing.

6. Neutral hat  – When I’m heading to the beach or a tropical location, I always take a neutral hat that’s made specifically for travel. I can pack it and not worry about it losing its shape or getting damaged. Make sure that it will give you UV protection that you will need as well.

7. Pack neutral custom jewelry  –  Learning how to pack for vacation includes zip lock bags.  Using zip lock bags to pack my custom jewelry allows me to see what I have.  I place the zip lock bag in a cosmetic bag for extra protection. With the exception of my rings, I do not take my gold jewelry with me.  I also don’t remove my rings when I’m traveling.

8. Take 2 swimsuits and a plastic tote – How to pack for vacation includes a tote, which I place the tote on the bottom of my suitcase.  I use the plastic tote as my beach bag. I’ve been carrying the same plastic tote for years. It can withstand the sand and I can wash it off to repack on the return trip.

9.  Pack a wrap or blanket  – I always pack a wrap or light weight blanket in my carry on.  I don’t like to be cold on my flights, so I just fold it and place it back in the bag after I land.

10.  Roll your clothes –  Roll your clothes instead of folding them. It give you more room and less wrinkles. Rolling your items in tissue paper keeps down the wrinkles too.  If you don’t want to deal with tissue paper.  Get a travel spray bottle, and fill it with Downy Wrinkle Releaser.  This stuff is great.

11. Buy sturdy luggage  –  Purchase or use luggage that can endure your flight.  Make sure your address and cell phone number are on your luggage tag.  I also tie a piece of red ribbon on the handle of my luggage. The ribbon helps me to identify it on the carousal.

I hope these tips on how to pack for vacation will help you pack more efficiently too. They certainly have helped me to keep it simple when I travel now.

You may also like:  Traveling Solo As A Female

 

Hunt Club Farm Christmas Displays

 

 

Hunt Club Christmas Displays

The holiday season officially starts for my family Thanksgiving Day.  The tree goes up and we’re planning holiday activities.  My daughter lives in Virginia Beach, VA.  A mile down the road is Hunt Club Farm.  They sit on 23 acres and cater to children all year.  Each year we take the grandchildren to see the Christmas displays.  Their displays are amazing.  They are full of automated elves, soldiers, reindeer and everything else you can image.  It’s a child’s delight.  Here are some of the displays from last season: 

 

Virginia Beach Hunt Club farm

 

It’s a great place for photo opportunities as you can see.  My granddaughter is not into picture taking for some reason.  She doesn’t like to cooperate for the camera, so I’m hoping I can get a few good shots.  This is my grandson last year in front of their Christmas tree.  Amazing how much he has grown in a year.  Precious I might add. 

 

If the weather is nice we move on to the Petting Zoo.  This is Mr. Llama.  He was on display last year.  The great thing about the Petting Zoo is you never know what animals you will come across.  The have great displays there too.  Last year they had an adorable little building that housed Santa.  Xavier was a little shy, but he gave Santa his wish list.  

 

We end our trip at the fire pit roasting hot dogs and making S’mores.  They have a stand that sells the hot dogs and buns and everything needed for the S’mores.  The roasters come with the package.  You can pick up hot chocolate or apple cider to wash it down.  If you live in the Hampton Roads area, plan a trip.  It’s a great way to start the holiday season and makes great memories for the kids.  

 

 

Traveling With Toddlers


Traveling with your toddler can be difficult.  A mother and her 2 year old son were kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight from Amarillo, TX to San Jose, TX because her son was disruptive.  According to a Southwest Airline representative, the child was so disruptive passengers were unable to hear pre-flight instructions. The child repeated over and over, “Go Plane Go” and “I Want Daddy”.
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