Saturday, June 6, 2015

A well deserved vacation! Travel Journaling For Memories.

My intent was to get back from a lovely vacation for my husband's birthday and our upcoming 40th wedding anniversary and get these pages in my Travel Journal posted onto the blog before now.  But do to unseen delays I'm a bit late in accomplishing that.  (More to come in my next post on why.)   

On The flight to FL

A much needed trip after a grueling spring of Art show fundraiser organizing and teaching.  My artistic juices were in desperate need of refueling, and it was time to celebrate as well as chill and relax.  What better way than to spend a day and a half in Fort Lauderdale before setting sail on the Carnival Cruise ship "The Breeze", one of their newest and largest.

While in Ft. L, we noshed on some great crepes and then toured the historic Bonnet House, circa 1920, home of artist Frederick Clay Bartlett, a muralist from Chicago.  This home's property became Ft. Lauderdale beach, and the home now sits in the midst of the urban growth of hotels and beaches.  For more info see Bonnet House: here   I had a ball touring this home and getting to see his working studio while in FL for the winters.  His second wife Evelyn started painting in her 50's and became, in my opinion a better painter than her husband.  It is a must see spot if your in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
                                                               Orchids attach to all the trees in the beautiful gardens.

Departing from Miami, Day One and Two of the cruise aboard ship, towel animals and open seas.  Sleeping at night was good with the gentle sway of the Atlantic.

Day Three - "Jamaica Mon!  No problem!" Excursion Day to Dunn's River Falls from Falmouth our first Port of call.   A thoroughly wet and wild climb to the top of the falls, rapids body surfing and light rain in the rain forest that surrounds this beautiful spot.  Then off to the Bamboo Beach Club for lunch and Jamaican rum drinks, champagne cocktails and surf!  I sketched the cove and the turquoise water.  Steps ascended up the cliff to a cave, I'm told by our tour guides, Heather and Damar.   They loved my sketch and signed on the page!  It's fun to get others involved in your journaling.

Day  Four - Grand Cayman and a walking tour of town, shopping then a quick taxi to HELL and back.  Met the devil, Tom bought a T-shirt to prove it.  

 He was actually a nice guy, ex-merchant marine from Norfolk, VA,  a small world.  Chickens and roosters ran loose here, after escaping during a long ago hurricane. We stored up energy for Thursday and went back to the ship early enough to sketch the shore from our balcony.


(Also known as climb a Mayan pyramid day.)

COBA - the tallest Myan pyramid/temple, and only one still open to tourists to climb.  

Thurs. was Cozumel - A three hour trip - Two ferry rides, a 1.5 hour bus ride and we were at Coba, the Mayan city's ruins.  A Rickshaw ride through only a fraction of the restored ruins brought us to the tallest Mayan pyramid, and the only one you can still walk up - My goal.  Walk is a relative term, 138 ft. with 112 steps, most a good two steps tall, it was 90% humidity and 89 deg., and we were given 30 minutes to go up and back down.  The steps crumbled in areas, so I stayed in the center, looking up twice, it seemed like it could take forever, but I made it!!!!  My son Chris was waiting to take my picture.  Did I mention Chris is a fantastic travel planner :))

At the top was a great view of the rain forest, so I closed my eyes, centered my breathe and emptied my thoughts, as the Mayan guide suggested, to invite the power of the gods.  Not sure if it worked but I didn't have a heart attack!     Now for the more difficult trip down, with quivering leg muscles.  All my on the ship training/stair climbing,  proved no preparation for this climb.  So I used my best ass-et in this case, which everyone else was doing.  Young and old, we came down on our butts.  Slow but efficient, and with the slippery steps, a sound decision.  

                            In the picture below - that's me bent over climbing up!  
Our Mayan rickshaw driver/peddler (Manuel) was a god send, he spoke little English but laughed when I told him I was 20 lbs. lighter after the climb from all the sweat, so the ride back should be easier.  Our time was limited so this sketch was done after I recovered on the way back home.  Tom and the boys were proud of me from my trek up Dunn's River but they were very proud that their newly celebrated 60 year old Dad and 57.5 yr old Mom went up when many younger people on our bus did not.  

Shopping for some "Mayan bling" was accomplished right on the bus ride home, an obsidian necklace with my name spelled in Mayan characters to commemorate the Day.  Apparently Mayan couples exchange these necklaces with each other's name on them instead of wedding rings.  

Carnival held the ship for us as our three hour trip back was delayed by a late ferry.  Even though this was my bucket list item the guys all were glad to tuck this climb into their "Life Experience memory list "  And I was glad to add it to my journal.

Day Six back on the Breeze, and at sea heading home, I was quite sore, muscles joints and the hot tub felt great.  

And Day Seven - 6:40 AM back into the port of Miami, and the trip back to the airport, and to Richmond.  Ending with Chinese food back home.  

I hope this summer you too will go out and sketch your travels, whether they are at the beach, in far away lands or right in your back yard.  It's worth writing those memories into your subconscious.  Looking back at my journal pages I can smell, taste and envision my experiences and you can train your memory muscles to do just that too.  

The best part was coming home to my faithful Studio Assistant "Bacio" who enjoyed himself at the Countryside Bed and Biscuit here in VA.  He's just not sure why he couldn't go, and promised to do better in puppy class if we promised to take him next time.


  1. Love this, I felt like I was with you on your journey.

  2. Love all the pics& sketches!! You guys look like you had a WONDERFUL experience!!


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