G-Weeks: Goodness, Gardner, God and Groups

Websites Spreading Goodness

As we Gather to Give our Goodbyes to G-Weeks, I want to first Galvanize this Group by making you aware of websites spreading Goodness.

The homepage of CarpeDiemDay.Com lists a Group of Great Websites including:

I could Gush about the Gallery of Game-changing content in these Gazettes. They are Gems that remind us that the world is filled with Generosity and Goodness.

I discovered this Gift of G-Words as well as the Good Good Good Website itself, thanks to Google earlier this year! (This Gal is GaGa about Google!)

Gardner Park

Great Gal with her Gorgeous Greyhound

It’s always my Goal to have a microadventure celebrating my theme letter. For G-Weeks, my Groovy Gal-pal, Becky, aGreed to meet up at Gardner Park with her dogs, Jack and Carla.

Carla is a Gorgeous Greyhound who Galavants and Gallops at such speeds, you can’t help but Get Giddy! Go, Carla, Go!

Jack will also make you Giggle; his is more of a Geriatric Gait, his Gaze filled with Genuine Gumption.

G-Weeks Gathering

Besides a Dog Park, Gardner Park Garnered Gardens and a Gravity Swing. Even as a Grownup, I Glibly Glided down the Green track with Gusto.

We topped off the Gardner Gathering with Grapes, Gastronomy and Gabbing about Gifts and Gadgets at The Granary.

God’s Grace

On the weekends that I don’t write my Goofy alliteration blog posts, my Goal is to write something with more Gravitas. Last Sunday was Easter. I was able to attend a Gorgeous sunrise service at Holmes Beach.

Easter Sunrise Service on Holmes Beach

The final song they played at the service was Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah with lyrics telling the Easter story. (I have a long history with the song, Hallelujah, which may be more appropriate to discuss during H weeks.)

Getting back to G’s, as tears came Gushing down my cheeks, I realized how intertwined Grief, Gratitude, and Grace are. That through our deepest Grief, God’s Grace promises us the Gift of eternal life.

I’m Guessing God, is Giving me a Gold star for my faithful revelation, though perhaps a Gaffe to be Goofing around, Going on about G-words. I mean G-sus! (God, I hope the fact that I didn’t spell His name right, makes it OK to say that.)

Groups

I am so Grateful for Groups and Gatherings and all the Goodness we Get to enjoy. The Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group was full of fun enGagement, as always.

I Geek-out on the Gibberish and GobbledyGook!

Geez!

R.R. Garcia Gave us Grasshoppers and Green Grass. Heidi shared a Glorious Gratitude Green photo.

Let’s Get out and Garden, Golf, or Goof-off for the weekend, as we say Goodbye to G-Weeks. Come Monday, it’s Hello to H-Weeks!

Carpe Diem: Reframing the Bucket List

Bucket lists and goals are my thing. My alter ego is “Super Carpe Diem Woman” after all! I’m all about Seizing the Day! That’s why it was a bit upsetting for me to see one of my weekly newsletters touting “The Rise of the Anti-Bucket List.”

Super Carpe Diem Woman
Super Carpe Diem Woman Leading the Walk to Defeat ALS in Honor of Craig Dunham

The first trigger was the “Anti-” prefix. I immediately wanted to write a post about how I was “Anti-Anti-Bucket Lists.” Whenever I hear anyone saying they’re Anti-anything, my devil’s advocate pipes right up, ready to argue. (Well, unless we’re talking about watching “Auntie Mame” which just happens to be on my March Bucket List.)

After reading the AARP article that originally describes the case for an Anti-Bucket List, I realized the author’s notion of “bucket list” is totally different from my own.

“My bad year had taught me a lot, and probably chief among those things is that there’s much to be said for ordinary life. So I suggest you put the bucket list in the shredder. Do what I’ve done: Create an anti-bucket list. It’s easy. Plane travel? It’s over. Anything you watch on shows like The Amazing Race or Survivor — forget it. Things that might cause stress or fear or make your back ache? Getting up too early or staying out too late? Why? Really, why?”

Stephen Randall, AARP
 

While I respect and understand the author’s point of view, I have a different opinion about two of his reasons for promoting an anti-bucket list. In my quite passionate opinion:

  1. An ordinary life is FULL of Bucket List-worthy items!
  2. We’re happier when we focus on what we want to do instead of what we will never do again.

Bucket Lists are not just about lofty adventures

A bucket list is meant to be a list of things you want to do before you die. It absolutely doesn’t need to be about travel or challenging goals. It can be about relationships, health, learning or anything! A bucket list is going to be different for every person. The key is to figure out what YOU want to do in this lifetime. Then, do it! Or move towards it. Enjoy the journey!

I executed a 60 Until 60 List the 60 weeks leading up to my 60th birthday. I treated this kind of like a Bucket List that I wanted to complete by age 60 rather than “before I die”. The whole “before I die” deadline is too uncertain. (As a project manager, I’d never accept that!)

I much prefer Yearly Projects filled with rather trivial goals designed to bring joy and happiness into my life. And when I’m happy, the people I love are happier, too.

In 2022, I had a Year of Microadventures, which turned out to be better than a Bucket List for me. Anything could be a “Microadventure.” My only rules were that I had to do something with someone else and blog about it.

Last year was my Year of Learning, which included my quest to become an AARP Benefits Badass!

My goals and Microadventures include quotidian experiences. I very much enjoy finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Reading a book, walks in the park, indulging in a Netflix series with my son – these are not typical “bucket list items.” However, by being intentional about having an experience, particularly with someone else, and writing about it, I’m creating invaluable memories.

Focus on what you want to do

Stephen Randall’s argument for an anti-bucket list is that it gives us a way to say ‘no more’ to things we don’t want to do. Sure, we shouldn’t let our friends (or our own inner-critics) guilt or pressure us into doing things we don’t really want to do!

I absolutely agree with listening to our gut when we are setting our goals, whether those be on a bucket list or a weekly to-do list. One of the greatest things about being retired is that we have full autonomy of how we choose to spend our time.

As we age, we find there are things we no longer want to do. There may be things on our bucket list that no longer seem realistic.

Randall lists traveling on a plane, things that cause us stress or fear, and getting up early or staying out late as items for his anti-bucket list.

Being self-aware of both what you want to do and what you don’t want to do with your time is awesome. However, I suggest our mood responds much more favorably to anticipating something we want to do, rather than declaring what we won’t be doing.

Rather than declaring we won’t be traveling on a plane, why not have goals to have a staycation, scope out the local farmer’s market, or invite your neighbor out for coffee at that new place on the corner?

Facing Mortality

My passion for a “Carpe Diem” Lifestyle is primarily fueled from my experience in watching Craig Dunham, a friend who died from ALS in 2010.

As he lost his ability to speak, walk or move, he kept adapting, taking pleasure in whatever he could still do. That courage and strength still fills me with such admiration. The day I realized he couldn’t pick up the phone and tell his kids he loved them, was the day I realized how very much I take for granted.

There’s an infinite list of things we will not do in our lifetime, either because we don’t have the time, the money, the ability, or simply don’t want to! Why spend any time thinking about those things?

Instead, let’s fill our days with doing the things we want to do. Whether they are big, lofty goals or simply picking up the phone to say, ‘I love you,’ let’s continue to intentionally live our best lives.

Carpe Diem Experience: Solomon’s Castle

Solomon’s Castle exterior is made from aluminum printing plates.

Solomon's Castle
Solomon’s Castle is the perfect Carpe Diem experience

The Humor of Howard Solomon

“A visit to Solomon’s Castle may be the most unique experience of your life,” touts the brochure. The visit didn’t disappoint. I’m a lover of Whimsy and puns, and visiting Solomon’s Castle provided both in spades… and hearts, clubs, and diamonds. Yes, I know. I’m such a card.

You know who was a bigger Joker? Howard Solomon! The King of this unusual castle.

Howard Solomon had more than a sense of humor. He was a very talented artist. He made his dreams a reality by building his fantasy workshop and home and sharing it with the world.

Photos weren’t allowed within the castle. That was lucky! I would’ve wanted to photograph everything and I would’ve been too busy taking photos rather than just enjoying the art, along with the funny tour script.

This must be a newer rule, though, since I found this blog post from 2017 which includes pictures of several of the quirky art pieces and their titles.

Betsy Ford, our tour guide, told us that before Howard died, he’d written the long script, riddled with one-liners and Dad jokes. While the barrage of puns might be groan-worthy in a comedy club, the timing and delivery from Ms. Ford was perfect. She proudly (with a hint of apology?) told us that Howard had written and requested all the tour guides learn the script and that we should “imagine an 80-something-year-old man” giving the tour.

I, of course, loved every joke, and felt an immediate bond with Howard Solomon. As a pun-lover myself, I found his script clever and endearing.

“Fencing” around the castle

The Art of Solomon’s Castle

Of course, his art was his true genius. Every piece was amazingly creative and unique. Art pieces were made from recycled or scrapped materials which added to their charm. For example there were animal sculptures made entirely out of coat hangers.

The outside of the castle is made with aluminum printing plates. There are more than 80 stained glass windows, many in thematic sets. As we passed through the studios into the living quarters, the lights streaming from above through one of the stained glass windows created a ethereal brilliant glow.

The Castle exterior is made from aluminum printing plates

Just beyond the castle, guests can enjoy a restaurant called “The Boat on the Moat” with indoor and outdoor seating. There’s a Light House, a Pavilion, a Gift Shop and even the opportunity to sleep at the castle!

The Boat in the Moat

Whimsical and unique, Solomon’s Castle, in Ona, FL. is right up my alley. It was the perfect Carpe Diem adventure that I wouldn’t have even known about, had I not met a new thoughtful friend last week, Sue Ellen. But that’s a story for another blog post.

Bottom line? GO!

*Notice that in the spirit of an artistic representation of the final sentence above, I’m including a green “Bottom line” to this blog post. Though this may not seem like “art,” it took me much longer than I thought it would to figure out how to do this.


Albuquerque Balloon Festival 2023

Balloon Glow at 2023 Albuquerque Balloon Festival
Balloon Glow at 2023 Albuquerque Balloon Festival

I’m way overdue on this blog post. There are some adventures that I know a blog post can’t properly describe. My photos and writing just aren’t skilled enough to capture the beauty of the unique experience! This is one of those adventures.

The Albuquerque Balloon Festival has been on my bucket list for awhile. In fact, it was the only item (#32) on my original 60 until 60 list that I didn’t accomplish. (Instead I substituted walking 2019 miles in 2019).

Any good adventure is not just about the experience, it’s also about who you go with! So, when one of my favorite girlfriends, Sonja, asked if I’d want to go to the Balloon Festival, I jumped on the opportunity! Heck, yeah!

Morning Ascent

Morning Session at Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Being newbies, we were both a bit unsure of the logistics. We made the 7-hour drive without a problem and rose at 4:30am in order to catch the shuttle for the sunrise ascent.

I’d read that we didn’t need to get admission tickets ahead of time, but it turned out the shuttle tickets were sold out and we were stuck in traffic at sunrise. Boo.

Despite this disappointment, when we did finally did make it to the park, the weather was clear and the balloons were plentiful.

Clear Sky Full of Colorful Balloons!

There was such a huge variety of balloons and it really was magnificent to see so many fill the sky all at once!

Old Town Albuquerque

Sonja with an artsy drink at The Dancing Crow in Old Town, Albuquerque

I was able to use my new Home Exchange Membership to get us a fabulous house for our 3-night Albuquerque stay. The house was beautiful, unique, and full of custom woodwork. It also turned out to be walking distance to Old Town, Albuquerque!

There were many fun and colorful shops full of whimsical items on display, including a “Seize the Day” mirror!

I loved this colorful Carpe Diem Mirror!

The town square was full of people dancing and enjoying music. One of my favorite memories from the trip is when Sonja and I danced and sang while the band played Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl.

Singing Brown-Eyed Girl with Sonja!

If you look at our ears in this video, you’ll see Sonja had bought us both some really perfect earrings! Hers had sunflowers and mine were my carpe diem colors of purple and turquoise. I love them and they’ll always remind me of this trip!

Evening Balloon Glow

Balloon Glow at Albuquerque Balloon Festival 2023

Our second night in Albuquerque, we went for the evening session at the park. This time, we knew to get the shuttle tickets (which included park admission) before they sold out. We also brought blankets and snacks, so we were much more prepared to relax and enjoy the evening festivities.

And those festivities were plentiful! This time, as the sun set and the sky darkened the balloons glowed as they were fired up in unison.

Nighttime Balloon Glow was Magnificent!

Besides the magnificent display of gorgeous colorful balloons, there were skydivers, a drone show and two sets of incredible fireworks! The shows totally exceeded all expectations!

In Summary

I understand now why the Albuquerque Balloon Festival is so highly recommended. Since we missed the morning shuttle, we didn’t make it to the park in time for the sunrise mass ascension, but we still were able to witness the beauty of the sky filled with colorful balloons.

But for me, the highlight of the Fiesta was the night session including the Balloon Glow, skydiving show, drone show, and fireworks. I’d never seen anything like it! So gorgeous!

Sharing the experience with Sonja was what truly made it special. Everything… the road-trip, our long talks, our shared excitement and joy of the shops and galleries, the thoughtful surprise earrings.. and, of course, the thrill of seeing all those gorgeous sites together – they all are memories I’ll treasure.

April Adventure: The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC

Cherry Blossom Festival 2023 in Washington DC

The Cherry Blossom Festival is an adventure inspiring awe

Last year was the year of Microadventures. I did some kind of activity or excursion at least once a week that inspired awe. My “rules” were that I had to do it with another person and then blog about it.

This was a wonderful habit to get into and even though I haven’t been blogging about all my 2023 Microadventures, I am going to blog today about a very awe-inspiring excursion: The 2023 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC.

What makes this a full-blown “adventure” (as opposed to a “micro”-adventure) is that I’ve been planning for it ever since Scotty moved to Washington DC last year! This took planning and travel and was a much anticipated escapade.

I just love flowers, flowering trees, and had heard how gorgeous the cherry blossom trees would be when they were at their peak.

Timing the peak

One of the difficult things about seeing awe-inspiring natural beauty is that it’s difficult to time the peak days, which change from year to year.

Because I needed to make my travel plans in advance, I just estimated the peak to be around early April, and got nervous when this year’s peak turned out to be March 23.

Even though we were there 9 days after the peak, there were plenty of beautiful, full trees. The weather was cool (about 57 degrees) but sunny so the scenery stunning. I absolutely want to make this an annual event (as long as Scotty is living in the DC area). Maybe next year, we’ll be able to hit it right at its peak. Now I feel confident, though, that it’s still worth going even a week or so past peak bloom.

Photos of the Cherry Blossom Festival in historic Washington DC

The Cherry Blossom Trees surround the Tidal Basin of Washington DC’s National Mall. This is where you’ll find all the historic monuments honoring our country’s forefathers.

The Jefferson Memorial framed by Cherry Blossom Branches
Martin Luther King Memorial Surrounded by Cherry Blossom Trees
Tulip Garden with the Washington Monument in the background
Cherry Blossom Trees in the Japanese Lantern section

Getting off the beaten path

The one downside of this adventure were the crowds. Luckily, we were able to take the subway to get to the National Mall, but the sounds of cars honking and whistles blowing (from people who were directing traffic and pedestrians) kind of took away from the audio ambiance.

After getting our fill of the trees around the National Mall, we got back on the subway to the Armory exit and from there took a Lyft to the National Arboretum for more beauty.

Cherry Blossom Trees at the National Arboretum

The National Arboretum offered up more opportunities for Spring Blossoms. Scotty kept saying they should have a race through these trails. After I’d scoffed at such an idea, we saw that, in fact, there was going to be a 5K in early June when all the azaleas would be in bloom!

Fields of Bluebells in bloom

It also was the season of bluebells! The vast blooms on this walking trail right by Scotty’s house were gorgeous and plentiful.

All-in-all, this was a super-successful adventure. These early April flowers fill me with joy and I’m so grateful that I was able to experience such a memorable sight with Scotty.

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!

iFly Indoor Skydiving: I Can Fly!

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

iFly Indoor Skydive in Orlando
Adventure at iFly Indoor Skydiving

Another flying adventure

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.)

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

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

What’s it like to have an iFly Indoor Skydiving Adventure?

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

iFly Indoor Skydiving is for every age!

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.

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.
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!