2023 Tuesdays with BB & Yvy #1: Robinson Preserve

Yvy (pronounced “Evie”) and BB at Robinson Preserve

Last year I blogged at least once a week about my Microadventures. This year I’ve been going with “Healthy Aging” as my loosey-goosey theme. I’ve also thought about blogging each week about someone I admire. I can do a twofer with this post by blogging about Becky and how she contributes to my brain health!

Healthy Aging

One thing that’s super-important for healthy aging and brain health is having good friends. Having new experiences is also great for the brain, so new experiences with good friends is like a double-dose of brain food!

During my snowbird months while I’m in Bradenton, FL, I’ve wanted to get into a routine. My best and very wise friend in the area is Becky Burns. We are both busy with our various projects, but I asked Becky if we could have a weekly get-together while I was in Florida. I love weekly rituals and rather than comparing calendars every week, it’s so much easier to just have a regular day/time blocked off so I can look forward to “BB Time!”

We agreed that Tuesday mornings worked well for both of us and Becky suggested that each week we could do different “microadventures” such as walks, paddle-boarding, cafes, beach, etc. Perfect!

A New Experience: Robinson Preserve and Sage Biscuit Cafe

I asked Becky to pick our first outing. The next morning I got an email titled, “2023 Tuesdays with BB & Yvie #1: Robinson Preserve.” I love the title of the email, both because it caters to my systematic titling of activities and uses my self-suggested nickname! (Though, I like spelling it Yvy, even more to really confuse people!)

Our scenic walk through Robinson Preserve was followed by a healthy brunch at Sage Biscuit Cafe. CarpeDeeLicious!

Robinson Preserve is a 600+-acre coastal preserve located in northwestern Bradenton.
Plenty of scenic hiking for Jack, Becky, and I to enjoy.
Delicious healthy brunch at Sage Biscuit Cafe in Bradenton

Someone I admire: Rebecca Burns!

Becky is a wonderful blog-post topic for a variety of reasons:

  1. She’s always interesting, fun, creative, witty, and willing to try new things.
  2. She doesn’t mind being the topic of blog posts!
  3. She’s one of the few people who reads my blog and often sends me a supportive comment, even when I know I’m being lazy about the writing.

In the Spring of 2020, we were Covid Lockdown partners at her home and she was my co-host on Season 2 of my Carpe Diem Connections Podcast.

In fact, I’ve blogged about Becky quite a bit, as an example of beauty and birthday-celebrator, as a supreme listener and animal-lover, as a guest on my podcast talking about self-acceptance, and on countless other posts as a fellow-adventurer.

BB & Yvy!

I’m so grateful to know this wise and wonderful friend and I bet my brain is 10x healthier than it used to be, thanks to our friendship!

I Can Fly!

Tony and I give indoor skydiving a try at iFly Orlando.

iFly Indoor Skydive in Orlando
Carpe Diem!

Even though my year of Microadventures is over, the adventures continue!

Knowing I’d be in Florida for the winter, Tony invited me to join him in Orlando for yet another flying adventure! (I’d also had an unexpected hang-gliding adventure in November).

Wow! Another opportunity to fly? I only wish I’d had my SuperCarpeDiemWoman cape! (Well, actually, we had to wear a special flight suit so… nevermind about the cape. At least I had my butterfly pants and Carpe Diem shirt for the pre-flight picture.)

Indoor Skydiving with iFly was yet another activity that I didn’t even know existed!

“Cousin” Tony is friend, family, and most importantly, a VIP Carpe Diem Adventurer!

Tony, an experienced iFlyer, had bought us each three flights with one of them being a high flight, where the instructor brought us up high in the wind tunnel and spun us around.

We didn’t have our phones or cameras when we were all suited up and flying, so no pictures of me flying, but here’s a YouTube video of what it’s like:

Yeah, that’s exactly what it was like! OK, we weren’t doing any fancy flips, but our instructor, Ryan, did tell me I did “very well.” And for the record, he didn’t say that to everyone. I was a proud graduate of the First Flight of iFly Flying School.

My Certificate of Completion of my first iFly flight

I thought this might be a fun thing to do with Diego and Reneya and asked what age range could fly.

“The youngest is 3 and we’ve had a few people who are over 100,” answered Ryan.

Ages 3 to over 100! One of the women in our group was celebrating her 70th birthday. I love an activity that spans all generations! Maybe I’ll take Mom, too!

If you’re looking for something fun and exciting to do, fly it out!

2022: A Year of Microadventures

It’s getting late on New Year’s Eve and I’m enjoying a tradition that I’ve grown to love – quiet reflection about the events of the past year as I peruse my photos, journals, and blog posts.

Last year my New Years Resolution was to have at least one “Microadventure” a week with at least one other person and blog about it. I thought it would help me be more intentional about creating fun experiences with people I love and maybe make some new friends, too! It turned out to be a huge success!

Some of my favorite Microadventures

When I describe this project, people often ask what were some of my favorites. Here are some that are memorable for me:

Santa School Graduation – This was fun because it was a surprise (Thank you, Michael Bolé!), something that I loved and didn’t even know such a school existed!

Santa School Graduation

Hang-gliding in Nags Head, NC – This was special because I didn’t ever think I’d even want to try hang-gliding! Doing it with my kids was extra special!

Hang-gliding school in Nags Head

In this summer-time MMAP (Multi-MicroAdventure Post) (which was light on blogging), I loved realizing that my life was filled with daily Microadventures! I especially thought it was cute when Reneya suggested we go to IHOP as a Microadventure.

Quotidian Microadventures including IHOP with the kids!

Of course, I loved all Microadventures that included my grandchildren, but this Trick-or-Trot 5K race was another highlight for me because I never thought I’d be able to run another race!

The Arvada Trick-or-Trot 5K with my favorite “foods”

Perhaps my favorite Microadventure blog post is this one where I took Scotty to meet his FlamingBro, Kazi at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Admittedly, I haven’t been putting much effort into the writing of these posts, but I had some fun with this one.

Scotty meets his FlamingBro, Kazi

My spontaneous international trip to San Miguel de Allende with “Bali Chris” was exciting and included many micro-adventures, perhaps the most memorable being a hot-air balloon ride.

Hot Air Balloon ride over San Miguel de Allende

I had a number of Microadventures with my good friend, Becky, including this one where we saw the play Our Town in Sarasota.

Becky strikes a pose

My friend, Jack(ster), always finds something special to do when I visit him in San Francisco.

Me and Jackster in Sausalito

This girlfriend getaway to Red Feather Lakes was such a welcome retreat.

Girlfriends Getaway

This post about a series of Microadventures while I was in Florida reminded me that the people were the magic ingredient that made my adventures so special.

jamesnorbury.com
This popular Big Panda quote capture the importance of the people in our lives.

Oh my goodness! Yes, there are so many more that I love because I love the people! I’m so grateful for all of the people who shared this year with me. What wonderful memories. My heart is full.

What worked well

  • The people! Whether family, good friend, or someone I was just meeting, doing this with at least one other person made it extra special!
  • Knowing that I was going to be writing about my Microadventures, I took more pictures, and paid closer attention to the details of the event. I often provided a hyperlink, and that would give me more information about the place I visited.
  • Writing the blog posts helped solidify the memory for me. Tonight, as I’m reading through the many, many (117+) Microadventures I’ve had, I’m amazed at all the incredible experiences I’ve had this year.
  • It helped to not plan too much! As I was thinking about my favorites, a lot of what made them my favorites is that they were unexpected or surprising in some way.
  • I was very flexible on my “rules”.. which made it very easy for me to come up with at least one Microadventure every week.
  • I had microadventures even on the weeks that were hard for me for some reason.. When I look back at the year, I’m reminded much more of these happy memories rather than my difficult ones.

What could have been better

  • My WordPress skills
  • My writing skills
  • I haven’t spent the time to write about all my recent Microadventures and its the last day of the year! I have a few more to catch up on!

What I’ll do next year

  • Continue weekly blogging
  • Take at least one class a month (including a class on writing)
  • Continue looking for new experiences and people to enjoy them with!

Microadventure #111-#117: Wilmington, NC with Matt & Stella

Microadventure #111: Stay at the Sunflower House in Wilmington, NC

After leaving Nags Head, Matt, Stella and I headed down the coast to the town of Wilmington, NC. We stayed at this charming Airbnb named the Sunflower House after the Van Gogh masterpiece.

Sunflower Mural on the side of the Sunflower House in Wilmington.

Stella needed to work our first day in Wilmington, but Matt and I ventured out to the RiverWalk and did another DIY Walking Tour (we’d also done one in Asheville), learning some of the history of the town. We also perused the Cotton Exchange shopping center, all decked out for the holidays.

Microadventure #112: Cape Fear River Walk in Wilmington
Christmas Tree decorated with Cotton in the Cotton Exchange Shopping Area

The following day we learned a lot more about the history of Wilmington at the very informative Cape Fear Museum.

Microadventure #113: Cape Fear Museum

This museum included a photo scavenger hunt, and, yes, even though it’s for children, I thoroughly enjoyed finding all the items. It was only a little embarrassing when Matt let the museum personnel know that I’d completed the scavenger hunt and should get the promised prize. It turned out to be a sticker which wasn’t enough to warrant the embarrassment, but I admit, I was curious about the prize myself.

One of the most interesting things we learned on the tour was about the 1898 coup at which White Supremacists overthrew the government in the only successful insurrection in America’s history.

I was amazed that I’d been unaware of this important and mostly hidden piece of American History. Matt, Stella and I watched the Documentary, Wilmington On Fire to learn more, and as we were leaving Wilmington we visited the 1898 Memorial.

Microadventure #114: 1898 Memorial

While we were at this Memorial, I saw a bus advertising Website, WilmingtonColor.com. Though we didn’t discover this site or opportunity to learn more about this heritage tour until we were leaving Wilmington, it’s on our list for our next visit.

Future Microadventure: WilmintoNColor Tour

Another thing I learned about Wilmington is that it is the home of Carnivorous plants, including the Venus Fly Trap. We visited the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden and learned that the Venus Fly Trap can only be found in a 75-100 mile radius of Wilmington! The Venus Fly Traps were really quite tiny and hard to find – not the big scary-looking plants that I’d imagined based on The Little Shop of Horrors!

Microadventure #115: Venus Fly Traps at the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden

One of the surprisingly interesting Wilmington Microadventures was touring the USS North Carolina Battleship with Matt. I say ‘surprisingly’ here because I’ve never been that interested in Battleships. I wouldn’t have picked this particular tour on my own, but Matt wanted to go, so I thought, ‘why not?’ secretly hoping we wouldn’t spend too much time there. We ended up spending at least 3 hours as we slowly went through the huge ship, taking it all in.

Microadventure #116: USS North Carolina Battleship

It was incredible to me that the men who served on this ship in the 1930’s might still be alive today and that all the technology that controlled the ship was before the age of personal computers or the Internet. Also crazy how uncomfortable and lacking in privacy it must have been for them with very uncomfortable looking bunks stacked up four in a row.

Matt joins me for a fun Happy Huladays pose!

There’s so much more I could write about each of these microadventures. In fact, there are quite a few more experiences we enjoyed in Wilmington, including crossing the bridge from One Tree Hill, exploring unique coffee shops and dinner spots, and Civil War Memorials.

Mostly, it was just wonderful to be sharing these microadventures with Matt and Stella. Even when we all lived in Colorado, we rarely travelled together.. or even saw each other much during the Covid years. I feel super-grateful to them for this trip and for this past two months full of new experiences and memories!

Microadventure #117: One Tree Hill Bridge
Biggest Adventure – Spending Holiday Time with Matt and Stella!

Microadventures #106-#110: Nags Head, NC with Matt, Stella, and Scotty

As I mentioned in my last post, hang gliding was just one of many microadventures I experienced in Nags Head, NC last week.

Microadventure #106: Dinner at The Jingle 12 Christmas Themed Pop-up

Matt, Stella, and I arrived at Nags Head on Friday, Dec.9th, in time for dinner. It turns out that this is the off-season in Nags Head and the first three dinner places we tried to eat at were closed (they really need to do better at keeping their Websites current.)

We’d passed this very festive-looking place called “Jingle 12” which I thought looked perfect! Matt, however, had given it a thumbs down. Even after three of his picks were closed, he wanted to go to the Outback.

It took a bit of persuasion, but I finally convinced Matt to try Jingle 12. We were all pleasantly surprised. Sure, it was over-the-top Christmas, but if you’re gonna decorate, go big, right? Every inch of this place was covered with lights and Christmas decor. The theme continued to the menus with holiday-themed drinks and dishes.

The food was delicious and unique. We even took home a cookie sampler as though we’d been to a traditional cookie exchange party.

All of this was a “pop-up,” only available for the month of December! Despite Matt’s initial hesitation, Matt, Stella, and I all agreed that it was the perfect way to start our Nags Head Microadventures.

Microadventure #107: Bodie Island Lighthouse

Scotty arrived in Nags Head, joining us at the Airbnb late Friday night. Saturday morning, our first stop was Bodie Island Lighthouse.

We read about this history and debated about it’s ‘distinctive’ black and white design. (When Scotty and Matt are together, everything is a debate.)

We also walked through the grounds with the dogs (though, unfortunately, this is where they may have been exposed to ticks). Still, it was good to get some steps in and just the beginning of our very full day.

Me, Scotty, Stella, and Matt – Walking around Bodie Island with the Lighthouse in the background
Microadventure #108: Elizabethan Gardens

The family discussions and walking continued as we roamed through the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC. The grounds were gorgeous and decorated for the holiday season.

Matt, Stella, Mochi, and Choco

The snowmen bench provided the perfect photo op for family holiday cards.

These gardens were meant to recreate the gardens of England and as a memorial for the Lost Colony – settlers that came over to the area over 400 years ago.

Personally, I didn’t know anything about the Lost Colony, but one of the guides at the park, told us all about it. We got a kick out of his dramatic story-telling. Maybe I’m getting used to the faster speed that Matt & Stella listen to podcasts, because I was getting a bit impatient with his theatrical pauses and rhetorical questions.

I have to admit, the story was a lot more interesting than a typical history class and did whet my appetite for wanting to learn more.

Microadventure #109: Wright Brothers Memorial and Museum

After our hang gliding experience, we continued our busy day by going to the Wright Brothers Memorial and Museum.

The museum celebrates the history of flight describing Wilbur and Orville’s early designs and trials.

It’s really amazing that those first flights were a mere 120 years ago! We’ve come such a long way in such a short time.

Microadventure #110: Beach house Airbnb stay

One of the novelties of any vacation is the lodging. Since Airbnb has become an option, it’s especially fun to be able to stay at places other than hotels. Stella’s especially good at finding unique and beautiful places, and this trip was no different. We were at a house right on the beach where we could hear the waves crashing to shore from our beds.

After our busy Saturday of Microadventures, Scotty suggested we watch the Star Wars Holiday Special. This 1978 made-for-TV special apparently was considered so bad that it won the #1 in The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. One of my favorite memories of the day was listening to Matt and Scotty laughing hysterically at some of the Chewbacca family scenes.

The next morning we played board games before checking out and eating our final meal in the Outer Banks. Scotty needed to head back to Virginia and Matt, Stella, and I were headed to Wilmington.

It was a short trip for Scotty, but fully loaded. And in just a couple of weeks, he’ll be coming back to North Carolina for Christmas!

Microadventure #105: Hang-gliding in Nags Head, NC

I was going to title this blog post: “Learning to Fly.” Flying, after all, is a skill most superheroes have, and this more-than-microadventure experience is totally one that caters to my SuperCarpeDiemWoman alter-ego.

Stella planned a vacation within a vacation for us to Nags Head, NC, during my 2-month holiday visit to North Carolina. Scotty drove down from Centreville, VA to meet us at an awesome Airbnb beach house right on the coast.

Our itinerary included at least 5 events that I’d consider “Microadventures” but I will save the other 4 for another post.

Matt & Scotty going to Hang Gliding School!

Originally, it was only going to be Matt & Scotty who had planned to experience hang gliding at KittyHawkKites. We’d thought it was a 3-hour training period which concluded with a flight.

Knowing that any previous classes I’d taken involving wind (sailing and wind-surfing) were embarrassingly pathetic, I had no interest myself in even trying.

In fact, I’ve been avoiding any sport that is at all risky or dangerous since I started having back problems 4 years ago. And I’d heard that hang gliding was one of the most dangerous sports there is!

Stella and I had planned to just go find a pretty walk somewhere on the beach while Matt & Scotty took the class and be back in time for a photo shoot of their flight.

However, we discovered that we could tag along for the class, which included 5 flights to actually experience what they were learning. Willie, one of the instructors, asked Stella and me, “Are you sure you don’t want to join, too?”

Stella said she was perfectly happy to watch with Choco and Mochi.

Stella on the Sand Dunes of Jockey’s Ridge watching our attempts at hang gliding

I, however, hesitantly said that I might like to try. I’ve lived through skydiving, bungee jumping, and para-sailing (although I did break my tooth on the skydiving landing.) I’m all about the one-time adventure experience in a controlled environment.

I also realized that this was an opportunity to experience something new and adventurous right alongside my dare-devil sons, Matt and Scotty.

Willie told me that I could watch Matt & Scotty’s first flights and decide. When I saw that it didn’t look nearly as scary and dangerous as I’d imagined (this was a beginner’s lesson, after all) I decided to go for it!

It ended up being amazing! Willie and Megan, the two trainers, were there to guide throughout my three flights and I had no problems at all, even on the landings!

“I’m flying!”

Interestingly, there was a woman around my age, Sonia, who was working on getting a hang gliding certification. We chatted and exchanged numbers and I admired her passion in wanting to advance with her skills with the sport.

Personally, I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to do it at all. Experiencing the thrill of “flying,” the relief of the ease of landing, the excitement of the instructors yelling out, “You’re doing it!” and being with Matt, Scotty, and Stella– yeah, that’s once-in-a-lifetime priceless.


12-31-22 Update: I just received this text from Sonia: Happy New Year, Yvette. I’m back home in Ohio, I arrived only a few days ago. I stopped in Washington D.C. on my way back and spent Christmas day at Mount Vernon–George Washington’s estate. Had no idea how entrepreneurial a man he was, they still have a distillery there and sell his whiskey, that is whiskey produced using his recipes. The best news of all though, is that I got my Hang 1 certification. Glad to share the news with you because, well, you were there for a small part of the journey. Hang 2 or Bust!!! Keep in touch.

Microadventure #104 – Hiking in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with new friends


Occoneechee Mountain Fall Colors Hike

My very first Microadventure for my 2022 Project was a hike on Myakkahatchee Trail in North Port, Florida. Now, here it is, over 100 Microadventures later and I’m writing about a similar experience, this time in North Carolina, on another hike with a chee-ending name: Occoneechee,

Walking and hiking has been a wonderful “happy” habit of mine for the past few years, since I gave up running (and a full time job!)

I’m just amazed at how many parks and trails there are everywhere! And here in North Carolina at this time of year, the trees are especially gorgeous.

Hiking and walking are a wonderful way to make new friends when you’re in a new location, as I am these days.

The Carborro Parks and Recreation has a “Golden Trails” program and I was able to tag along as Naturalist Kate Finlayson led us with facts about the trees, birds, and all things nature! For example, Kate described how you could tell the difference between different types of oak trees based on the bark. I hadn’t even known there were different types of oak trees at all! I loved seeing Kate’s passion for nature and her excitement when teaching us.

Pumpkin Loop Trail with Meetup Group

I also discovered a Meetup Group for Women (55+) Walkers. This is a very active Meetup group and it’s been fun to find like-minded ladies to hang out with while I’m here in Chapel Hill.

The Pumpkin Loop Trail is in the same Forest that’s right in Matt & Stella’s neighborhood so a short drive to get to the trailhead.

Eno River Trail Hike with Meetup

Another hike I went on with this group was in Eno River State Park. I’ve taken so many pictures on every hike I’ve been on and they all are beautiful. Each has its own unique charm, whether that be a river or creek, moss-covered tree bark, or a scene that looks like an artistic masterpiece.

But the hikes I’m describing here add an extra special ingredient: People! Already, a few of these like-minded walkers have met up with me for lunch or an activity. I’ll only be here for a few more weeks, but I’ll be back for visits, and it’s fun to make some new friends during this short chapter of my life while I’m visiting Matt & Stella.

Nature, sunshine, exercise, beauty and new friends – a recipe for happiness!

Microadventure #103: Asheville and Black Mountain with Matt & Stella

The Blue Ridge Parkway – Another stamp for my National Park Passport

Since I’ve been in North Carolina, I feel like I’ve been on vacation – I really have no responsibilities. But this past week, Matt and Stella took vacation, too, and the three of us visited Black Mountain and Asheville, North Carolina.

Stella’s an expert at planning fun vacations and is always so thoughtful in everything from picking out podcasts that we’d all enjoy to listen to on the road to finding the perfect Airbnbs and restaurants.

Pretty Airbnb house that we stayed at in Black Mountain, N.C.

The Airbnb house that they had found for us was big and beautiful and my upstairs room was very comfortable! There were plenty of decks and outdoor seating and a very comfortable chaise lounge and loft area where we played games in the evenings.

Purple swing and gazebo

The owners of this home clearly liked purple (my favorite color!) and I was happy to see purple influence in the dish-ware, decor, and even this outdoor purple swing.

On the first day after we arrived, while Stella worked from the Airbnb, Matt and I went on a DIY walking tour of Asheville.

Stop on Ashville walking tour

Matt was the guide and the tour was like a scavenger hunt as we found the different markers, buildings, and statues along the way, telling us about the history of Asheville.

I, of course, liked to be part of the scene, whenever possible.

I thought this tour was fun and informative and I was impressed that it was all free (especially after learning how expensive tickets were to see the Biltmore! Tickets at Christmas start at $99! No thank you!)

Every morning we would start the day with coffee shop pastries – a tradition we were doing on Sundays, but I was happy to see it extend to vacation days.

This was usually followed by a trail walk with the dogs, Mochi and Choco. One morning, while Matt & Stella went for a training run, I was in charge of watching my grand-dogs. So cute!

On our second day, Stella finished up her work early enough that the three of us were able to visit the Asheville Pinball Museum for an all-you-can-play pinball experience.

Pinball Museum in Ashville, NC

Playing pinball was very nostalgic for me because my family used to own a pinball machine. I’d spent many hours as a kid playing on our machine and many of the machines in the museum were similar. My brother, Chris, owned a few pinball machines of his own, and had won some pinball competitions. Chris died over 25 years ago, but, of course, the afternoon brought back a lot of memories.

And, even though I really don’t think it has anything to do with skill, I was especially pleased that I was able to beat Matt and Stella when we were all competing. (There are so few games that I ever beat them at.)

We all were a little less mindful of our usual healthy eating habits and indulged in some sweet treats. Matt brought their toaster-oven in order to make us his cookies toped with toasted marshmallow.

Matt makes us an evening treat!

On our final day, Matt made a little detour to take me on part of the Blue Ridge Parkway which would give me another stamp in my National Parks Passport book. We also stopped to do a short trail walk with the dogs.

Trail walk off the Blue Ridge Parkway

While this was a beautiful walk, we agreed that it was similar to the Carolina North Forest trails that are right in Matt and Stella’s neighborhood!

Matt reiterated what he’s said before – there’s no real need to go on vacation any more, since he lives in such a beautiful spot!

I know they really took this trip for me! They knew I’d love Black Mountain and Asheville and they were right!

Microadventure #102: Centreville, VA with Scotty

Me and Scotty on a walking trail in his Centreville neighborhood

For the past 5 years or so, my adult children all lived in Colorado and monthly get-togethers for birthdays or holidays were the norm. However, in the past year, both my sons moved to other parts of the country.. Matt (and Stella) to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Scotty to Centreville, Virginia (near Washington DC.)

Centreville is a 4.5 hour drive from Chapel Hill, so while I’m visiting Matt & Stella’s, I wanted to also make a trip up to see Scotty’s new place. I decided to do this over the Veterans Day long weekend before the days were too cold.

Veterans Day Free Food Hunt

Scotty, a Guardian in the newest military branch, the Space Force, has Veterans Day privileges to the many establishments offering free food and other goodies to Veterans. Scotty views this as what I’ll describe as a Veterans version of a Trick-or-Treat event.

Scotty, with his collection of “treats” from Veterans Day

I guess he typically does this with friends from work and assures me he’s not alone in this tradition. Personally, since Scotty is an engineer and has never been deployed, his job doesn’t seem particularly deserving of all the “Thank you for your service” respect that he gets from the general public.

I also don’t like him taking advantage of the generosity of businesses to collect a bunch of free food.. However, I’m sure this frugal gaming nature of collecting “free stuff” probably originated from my parenting habits. After my divorce, when I was always worried about money, I did gamify everything from grocery shopping to vacationing, looking for ways to be as cheap as possible, and Scotty very happily played along. I’ve reminded him since he’s been a well-employed adult that it’s no longer necessary to be ultra-frugal. He reminds me of his generosity in sharing his free stuff with me, to which I roll my eyes.

In any case, I resisted my instincts to criticize this tradition.. after all, he’s having fun, its harmless, he’s not breaking any laws and apparently he’s not alone in celebrating Veterans Day this way. And, yes, I get to share in the collected loot. To his credit, Scotty paid my full-price meal when we went to dinner at BJ’s Brewhouse.

Scotty gets free Veterans Day Meal at BJs Brewery in Centreville, VA

Walking

I also give credit for Scotty indulging me in my own traditions that he may have been internally rolling his eyes about – walking at least 10K steps every day.

On Veteran’s Day it was very rainy, yet in between fast food stops, I wanted to walk. Amazingly, there was the perfect trail, the George Snyder Trail, which we stumbled upon, right behind one of our stops!

Walking in the rain on the George Snyder Trail in Fairfax, VA

We both had umbrellas, and even though at times the rain was coming down fast, it wasn’t too cold. The blanket of leaves that covered the ground, along with the still colorful trees and the rain made this walk unique and memorable.

There also was a long, scenic trail right in Scotty’s neighborhood that he took me on when I first arrived, knowing how much I enjoyed walking in new places.

The Cub Run East Trail in Scotty’s Centreville, VA Neighborhood

Scotty’s house and neighborhood

I actually loved walking in Scotty’s neighborhood, too. One family had gotten a head start on the Christmas season and had enough Christmas decorations to rival Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Heavily decorated house for Christmas

Even I (a lover of seasonal decorations) thought that this was “too much” and preferred the more simplistic decor of the houses that still had their Halloween decorations out.

My vote for best house decor in Scotty’s neighborhood

I was impressed that Scotty would be able to afford a house in a Washington DC suburb in this pretty Colonial neighborhood. He got a good loan (another perk for Veterans) and rents out rooms in order to help with the mortgage. In fact, while I was there, I helped him get his newly finished basement room set up for Airbnb rental.

Scotty’s house in Centreville, VA
I love this front door that has a “speak-easy” style window. That’s a great feature for Halloween!
This outdoor patio with skylights is one of my favorite areas of Scotty’s house

Hanging out

I really love my relationship with Scotty. Typically, I’m hosting him at my house where we have our traditions of playing games, watching movies, or eating favorite meals. It was fun to have the roles reversed.. still doing the same things, but this time with Scotty as the host, and me as the visitor.

He cooked the meals (or “provided” them on Veterans Day), picked the movie Coraline for us to watch (finding movies we both want to watch can present a challenge!) and helped me play Magic: The Gathering a game from his youth that he’d challenged me to learn.

Scotty teaching me how to play Magic: the Gathering.

Scotty’s the “baby” of the family, but he is 28 years old, and it was fun to see him in the adult role of home-owner and host. Though I’d seen him in this role for the few years he’d lived in Colorado Springs, it was more common for him to come to my house than for me to go to his when he lived in Colorado.

I’d initially been sad about my kids continuing to move further from my big empty nest, but this month I’ve seen that their moves have given me a new opportunity. Now I get to experience visits to their “nests” and see their lives through a different lens.

All three of my kids lead very successful, independent lives – something every parent dreams of. I’m so proud of each of them. I feel very grateful that in the past month, I’ve gotten to spend quality time with each of them. Even though it’s been a little difficult for me to “let go” and fully embrace the empty nest stage of life, I see now that I can still enjoy special times with my kids, including this memorable Veterans Day Weekend at Scotty’s in Centreville!

Microadventure #101: Jump Rope Spectacular with Ranya

One of my favorite types of Microadventures is the type where I get to experience something that I didn’t even know existed! 

I knew about jump roping, of course, but I had no idea that jump roping had evolved into so much more than the simple jump roping games I’d played in second grade. 

Ranya, who I’d reconnected with last week at her Halloween Party, had invited me to this unique event.  Her daughter competes with the Bouncing Bulldogs and Ranya said the school was hosting an International Jump Rope Spectacular the following weekend.

As advertised on their site: “International Jump Rope Spectacular takes place annually on the first Saturday evening in November.  Top jumpers from around the world perform on one floor in front of hundreds of sport enthusiasts.  This one-night-only event also brings in leaders from various fields such as fashion, culture and education to truly show the power and dynamics of what jump rope can do to inspire young people to be their best.” 

I’d met a new friend, Skip, on Friday and asked if he’d be interested in joining me (after all his name is “Skip”!) It turns out his daughter had also been part of a jump rope team and he happily accepted my invitation.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we both agreed that anything with “Spectacular” in the title, was bound to be something worth viewing.

The show didn’t disappoint.

From the beginning, there were high-energy vibes as the kids performed what looked like “Jump Rope Dancing.” (I’m sure there must be more official names for the various dances, stunts, and competitions they all performed throughout the show.)

The kids were world class, not only entertaining us with their dancing, strength, and flexibility, but with their talent and speed in competitions. At times the ropes were rotating so fast, they seemed invisible.

Kids from Korea, Germany, and France joined the Chapel Hill Team as they jumped, flipped, and bounced through the gym.

When I told Ranya that I wanted to blog about the event and experience, she was all for it! It was obvious that Ranya had a huge respect and admiration of the coaches, the team, the sport, and the Bouncing Bulldogs

“It’s about much more than jump roping,” she said.

She talked about how the experienced kids help and mentor the newer team members. They learn about teamwork and gain leadership and coaching skills as they progress.

I was curious about the history of the sport, wondering how long it had been around and what types of competitions there were. It looks like competitions include both speed and freestyle events that are about presentation and entertainment.

I’m guessing it won’t be long before we’ll be seeing jump roping events at the Olympics! And I bet when that happens there will be someone from the Bouncing Bulldogs of Chapel Hill on the US Team – maybe even Ranya’s daughter. But whether or not they make it to the Olympics, I feel so lucky to have been able to witness such a spectacular performance!