Sanctuary 2.0: Ghost Stories

Unlike the cowardly lion, I don’t believe in spooks. I have no evidence that they exist; therefore, I do not believe. However, the logic works the other way too. I have no evidence they don’t exist; therefore, I’m open to the possibility that they do.

The house I live in has plenty of ghost stories associated with it and some of my friends, who are believers, won’t spend the night in the house. I have slept quite soundly there for over eight months now, but I have had some events that made me wonder if there are forces at work in the house. Continue reading →

The Portland of My 49th State

When I was young, my family took a lot of road trips up, down, and around everywhere east of the Mississippi, and even once all the way out to Montana. When I moved to Colorado, I took a lot of road trips around the western states to see everything I could before getting my master’s degree and moving back overseas. When I stuck around after graduation and found that travelling internationally from Denver was kind of a pain, I took some large pseudo-domestic trips, such as to Hawaii and Alaska. After all this travel, I found myself at the beginning of 2017 with only two states remaining to set foot in: Oregon and Idaho.

And now, there’s just Idaho. This is my somewhat-creative writing blog, but by day, I’m a technical writer and I work for an excellent and successful company. So excellent, in fact, that they picked up the tab for me to attend the Write the Docs conference, which happened to be in Portland, Oregon, this week. I have to specify Oregon because as an east-coaster, I still think of Maine first when I hear Portland, and I imagine some of you do too. I won’t go into all the details of what one learns and talks about at a technical writing conference, but if you’re curious about the career, I highly recommend Tom Johnson’s blog. He’s a tech writing guru, and he totally had groupies (including me) at the conference. Here, I’ll sum up some of the other highlights of the trip and save the show notes for my coworkers. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: Not Drinking the Kool-Aid, But…

Today marks three months that I’ve been living in Boulder proper, in my Little House, and so far, life in The Bubble has been pretty damn great. Yes, friends, that’s right. I said I like living in Boulder. My Colorado friends will not believe those words were typed by me. For years and years while living in Denver, I was firmly in the contingent of people who routinely mocked Boulder and not for a moment would have entertained the idea of living here. Even when I moved to what was technically Boulder, but not exactly, dealing with people who were weird enough to live in town was unthinkable.

But now, here I am. There was no question when I left the mountains that I would live right in town. My job is here, my friends are here, I hate commuting. But I didn’t expect to be so comfortable here right away. What do I love about it?

Proximity

45 percent of the places I go, including two friends’ houses, are walking distance from my home. 45 percent of the other places, including great hiking trails, are just a five to ten minute drive away and there’s always ample, free parking. I fuel up the car only once every four weeks or so. Continue reading →

Ferries!

Ferry

Overnight ferry to Tasmania. This is the real deal. (2000)

Rio Dulce Hotel Perrico

The Hotel Perrico, Rio Dulce, Guatemala. You can only get there by a tiny ferry (otherwise known as a motorboat). (2004)

ometepe-ferry

On the way to Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua (2008)

valentia-island-2

Waiting for the Valentia Island ferry to take me and the car back to mainland Ireland (2014)

While You Are There: Your on-board experiences will vary widely, but whether you are living it up in a private cabin on a ship with plenty of booze and entertainment, or crammed in a cold and leaky vessel with a bunch of local fisherman, enjoy it! It’s not your everyday experience. It’s part of being wherever you are.

Why It’s On My List: Yesterday’s post was about the places you can stay and today’s post is about the ways you can get there. Ferry travel can take you places that are expensive to get to otherwise, or sometimes, that you can’t even get to at all. Some of my favorite ferry related experiences are

  • The Aran Islands in Ireland  where I rented a bicycle and rode around narrow roads lined by sheep pastures outlines with old, low stone fences and the ever-present cold, gray sea in the background. It was the quintessential image of Ireland.
  • Elephanta Island in India, which was the first place I visited in India, the day after I arrived in Mumbai and had a day to kill before my flight to Vadodara. It was overwhelming and magnificent.
  • Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica where I witnessed a sea turtle nesting in the middle of the night under the stars.
  • Pelican Bar in Jamaica, which in itself was very cool, but my favorite part was riding over with a Honduran immigrant and learning about his life experiences and being very impressed with his English, but more, with how he had picked up the Jamaican patois in just six months
  • And last but not least, the ferry ride to Tasmania because I found a $100 bill lying on the carpet in the hallway!

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Week Four in the Mountains: Childhood Revisited

This past week, I picked up a refill of Trotsky’s heartworm medicine. When I got home and inspected what was in the bag, I noticed there was a $12 rebate offer. I’m not one to use coupons very often because 50 cents here and there just doesn’t seem worth my time to clip and organize them. Even when they don’t have 50 exclusions on the back, like the Bed, Bath & Beyond ones do, using coupons just seems too complicated. But I do like to save money when the saved value reaches my arbitray and changeable threshold. I’m a big fan of Groupon and Living Social, and when I was living downtown, it was a rare occasion that I would go out to eat if it wasn’t happy hour. $12 is about the cost of two drinks on happy hour, so taking the time to fill out the rebate seemed worthwhile in this case.

I have near-professional rebate completion training. With one income and five children, my parents were very frugal. My mother was the avid couponer and my father handled the rebates. Being the meticulous instruction follower that I am, filling out the rebates was one of the jobs that earned me my $2/week allowance. I knew where to find the rebate forms on the wall beyond the cash registers in Ames, True Value, and Eckerd Drugs. I read carefully to determine what needed to be circled, whether the UPC code needed to be cut out of the packaging and included, and if we had to include the original receipt or a copy would suffice. These corporations we sent the rebates to were as bad as insurance companies – they were waiting for us to make the slightest wrong move so they would have a legally protected reason to not give us the money. One mishap of my pen and we’d lose all chance of getting that check for a $1.50. They didn’t really want to give back that money anyways. If they did, they would have just supplied a coupon to begin with. But then it would have been in my mother’s domain and I’d have been out of a job. Continue reading →