Uncle-ing

Just a quick funny story to share…

Work brings me home to Idaho every once in awhile and I get to spend time with my family and play Uncle for a night with my nephew and two nieces.

Hide and Seek is the request and here is where the laughter begins…

I will spare you with the usual hide and seek; The youngest is barely hidden, the older ones hide in the closet – I pretend I don’t see them… blah blah blah.. that was for rounds 1 through 3.

I decide to make the youngest, Chloe- 3 years old- be the counter and seeker this time! So .. I knew this would be interesting. She starts counting while myself, Ashton (6) and Ellie (8) take off to hide.

(Quick reference- my parents have a patio deck out the back door- it sits relatively low to the ground- lots of shrubbery and lots of bugs- back yard is a full landscaped acre)

So … Ashton and I take off outside and Ellie hides in the house. I decide to back some patio furniture into the corner of the patio and crouch down and hide- pretty well hidden, and I hear Ashton leave the deck, unsure of where he wandered off to. I sit there in silence for a few minutes- laughing at myself because I am 37 years old- hiding on the back patio while all the adults in the house are drinking and watching football.

As I am sitting there lucky to live this hilarious, unusual life, I hear something rustling under the patio boards- and I think to myself “there is no way he climbed under this thing” .. an then I hear some grunting.. “Ashton- are you under the deck?” – “yea– and there are lots of spider webs. And rocks under here..”

Chloe is finally on the search for us and I am trying my hardest to control my laughter- but I have tears rolling down my face as I am in disbelief and thinking to myself, that, you could not pay me enough money to crawl under that deck!

So – Ashton is trying to whisper to me but I have to tell him to be quiet (even though I am worried for him that there may be some wild spiders under there.. eeek) because Chloe is close and doing our best to give up our positions.

Long story short – I gave Chloe several hints to find get her to walk further out on the deck by herself- and then she finally found me after I could no longer hold my laughter at her silly requests for “cmon you two” or “please make a sound”.

And once she found me- she wanted me to treat her the same way and give up Ashton’s position -it was a team mission if you asked her. It did take quite awhile, but thanks to Ashton’s animal calls (and me convincing Chloe that is wasn’t a real animal and it was likely her brother making the sounds) she found him under the patio.

We played several more rounds- each just as interesting! I will conclude with this: Chloe and I make a pretty good team! I always find her first (even after purposefully trying not to- she just kept calling for Uncle Josh- so I had to find her) and then she would take me directly to the other two!

Life is good!

It helps to let loose and be a kid every now and then!

Why everyone needs some Arubatherapy

One thing I love to do is travel the world and explore as many countries as possible, so I rarely ever repeat vacation spots. But one place has stolen my heart – a lovely quaint island full of splendor- Aruba. This blog is not to convince you to go, but to let you know how to explore this amazing 9×16 mile island!

First things first: Where to stay?

I am one who does not like to be in crowded hotels and areas that are jam packed with inexperienced travelers and their children (this seems to be a theme in my blog posts). There are two areas you can stay at in Orangjested: the low rise area (small resorts- no larger than 5 floors) or the high rise area (massive resorts). I obviously chose the low rise area after a recommendation from a friend.

Amazing hotels in the low rise:

My first choice would be Divi Tamarijn beachfront. It’s an amazing all-inclusive hotel that has all you would ever need, even if you choose not to explore the island. All the rooms on this side are two stories high- no elevator ever needed! Each room is beachfront- you can literally throw a shoe from your balcony into the amazing blue water!

The rooms are nothing super fancy- but who wants to stay in their room all day while visiting Paradise.

Food at Divi Tamarijn: the food is pretty good at all of the restaurants and I even think they improved from my first stay to my last one. Lots of restaurants to choose from- but we ended up really liking the buffet. This is weird because I am grossed out by buffets- especially at resorts. But this buffet is nice- lots of different options and every meal had some type of carving station and you can get pastas, gyros, steak and fish specially prepared for you- with very short wait times. The fruits were delicious each day and found myself making mini sandwiches to cure my day long craving for food.

Drinks at Divi Tamarijn: the drinks are good as long as you are specific on how you like them made- I was baffled when one bartender told us about the amount of people who complain that the drinks are too strong. I honestly did not know that was thing.. I prefer a strong bourbon and was never disappointed the whole week. Lots of people order frozen drinks (insert eye roll) so sometimes it can take a couple minutes to put in your drink order. All the bartenders are very friendly and personable and take the time to get to know you on a personal level.

What to do in Aruba?

Depending on your liking – If you want to just chill- this resort is the absolute best place on the island to sit under your little hut and soak in the sun! However- I am an adventure seeker – and can’t sit still for that long- especially in the sun (my pale ginger self would run out of 100 spf sunscreen after 3 days! SO – here is what you must do:

Once at the resort, rent a Jeep Wrangler for 2 days! You will not regret it! Next, get your Jeep and head for the California lighthouse and let your adventure around the island begin!

First stop: snorkeling!

Just past the high rise area, there is an area where all the boats bring tourists to snorkel- so drive there and jump in the water with equipment that you can check out for free from the resort.

Once you check out some fish, continue your drive towards the lighthouse and then get ready for my favorite part of Aruba- exploring the unpaved back side of the island. It absolutely requires a Jeep Wrangler to explore on your own! It takes some time to drive the whole back side as you cannot go too fast because of the terrain.

There are so many neat stops to get out and take pictures including abandoned surf houses, some ancient ruins and rocky cliffs that look over the amazing but very rough waters that are not swimable (although we did see some pro surfers one day- which was pretty amazing to watch them ride the waves)!

One absolute must do: Drive to the Natural pool! The drive is absolutely treacherous but fun at the same time- you will understand why a 4×4 is necessary. Cost is $11 per person to drive to the pool! Best of luck navigating the jacked rocks and boulders – and if you get car sick- this may not be for you- lol.

The Natural pool is a swimming hole that has been carved out by the waves crashing in over time.

Other places you must go to:

San Nicolas- A true experience of Aruban life! Amazing restaurants and a cool local vibe! Also one of the most amazing beaches- Baby Beach. Follow the signs as it is very easy to get to.

As you get close- you have the option to take a right to Baby Beach- but on your way out, be daring and take the unpaved road to the left and go explore more of the abandoned surf houses, and old prison guarded by goats, and swim in some amazing water!

And if you explore unpaved roads, you never know what you might find…. we found this…

Zoom in closely…

A few other things you must do:

Go to the grocery, buy a cheap cooler and fill it with alcohol and snacks. They have no laws against eating in your Jeep- but even better- you can also drink. Just be careful 😉!

Go eat at an Authentic restaurant – yes I recommended you stay at an all inclusive- but there is nothing better than taking in the real culture!

The sunsets every night rival any place I have ever been!

The wildlife is fun too- Iguanas everywhere- some beautiful bird- and lots of crabs on the back side!

I could probably continue writing about how much I love Aruba for days- most probably didn’t even make it this far into the blog. But if you did, let me know when you want to go to Aruba and I am happy to show you around!

Some travel days.. have to start with a Bloody Mary…

It is true that not all travel days are created equally- but very few bad ones are because of my own doing. Today was my own fault- and I feel I deserve a Bloody Mary.

This is not one of those travel nightmares that includes bad Uber drivers, traffic delays, or annoying families, children or the elderly. This is more along the lines of Home Alone – I overslept in a major way….

It all started with a pretty normal travel night for me: I got home from work, felt like watching some Succession on HBO, got my Big Brother fix in, and watched my taping of Chris Cuomo on CNN. Yes – this does sound like a pathetic night to some people, but for the TravelingGringo- this is my at home paradise. I laid there literally from 5:15pm to 9pm enjoying my evening- all while thinking about what I needed to pack for this trip- which is a simple trip- 3 days of choreography clothes, and one day of business attire for the Arkansas State Coaches meeting. After my news was over- I decided to roll out of bed and start to unpack my bag from my last trip- and see what was reusable and what was not- lol.. I realized I hadn’t started laundry yet – oops – so threw a quick load in on the shortest wash cycle so I could dry it before my 10pm sleep deadline. Does anyone else make sleep deadlines? Is that a real thing?

So, at 95% packed, I hop in bed, took a little Xanax (because my brain will stay up and active the entire night when I have an early morning flight). I texted a friend to tell them I would be at their house at 5:30-5:45am so they could drop me off at their airport so my car didn’t have to sit there. Knowing I am all set, I lay my head down on pillow and escape to a wonderful night of undisturbed slumber.

One little detail I missed – setting my alarm….

To make a long story very short-

5:50am- Call received from friend.

5:50am- Me wondering why someone would be calling so early.. then quickly realizing what is supposed to happen in my life today.

5:53am- pack remaining clothes from dryer – call Uber for friend to meet me at airport to take car.

5:57am- In car enroute to airport- not sure how I did that all in 7 min- I am very curious to see what I actually packed.

6:15am- Arrive at airport (record house to airport driving time)

6:28am- friend arrives at airport – I check my bag on Delta with one minute to spare.

6:45am- sitting in my first class seat with a Bloody Mary – acting as if this is a normal Thursday (although wondering what I look like because I just realized I never even looked in a mirror once..)

Even the roughest mornings can make for a good story–

And – I sound like Trump saying this “I didn’t want to bring it up.. but okay .. I will..” as I boarded the plane, I used the priority line while there were literally only 5 people standing in the regular line, but still wanted to use my travel perk.. I did feel kind of bad because I could have easily waited behind them — but then I remembered who I am…. #Boujee .. lol

Next, I arrive on the plane and a man is sitting in my window – already breaking one of the cardinal rules of being a passenger – having his window up before the sun is.. but I decided to just nicely sit in the aisle seat- and keep to myself – and let every single person who walks by hit me with their bags- and never said a word ..

Some days deserve bloody Mary’s in the morning….

I swear that Hot Spots to Travel is coming soon!

COMING NEXT WEEK….

I am going to be starting a weekly blog about my favorite travel destinations! All the good stuff for you to know to help plan an awesome trip! Look for the newest post coming this Sunday!! And please let me know what locations you are interested in – there is a good chance I have traveled there and will know all the details!

In the meantime – enjoy this pic of why I hate people …

Umm.. excuse me sir– but I don’t want to climb over you and your smelly feet… do you put your feet on your walls at home…

Cheers from the TravelingGringo

Not an Experienced Flyer? Things you must know before you step foot in the airport!!

As a very frequent traveler- I thought I might share some tips to make your travel experience perfect for those who are inexperienced- (really- I am sharing this with the hope that you will take notes and not be the annoying person traveling near me…)

First things first: you can’t carry your large liquids in your carry on bag. This is not new (remember 9/11) but so many people still seem confused about this. And technically you don’t have to take them out and put in a ziplock baggy. This still confuses me because does the person who came up with this rule/concept have random ziplock bags they always carry around with them? because pretty sure that no one else on Earth does.

Next: if you are unsure what TSA precheck is- please don’t enter the section at security that says it. If your ticket says does say pre-check but you are confused on how it works- just use the regular line- you will know no difference.

Moving walkways: these are designed to give people a break after they have been sitting on a plane for hours– just kidding— they are designed to help people move a little quicker from gate to gate. The purpose is not for a free ride – so if you are so worn out from sitting on in your airplane seat, please make sure you hug the right side of the walkway, with your bag in front of you, so the rest of us humans in the airport can easily walk past you… and possibly make judgments.

Also: since we are talking about the actual airport and maneuvering through it- remember that the middle of the airport is not the best place to stop and stand to chat with family members. Please move you and your clueless crew out of the way of moving travelers. Also- this is not your children’s jungle gym to play tag on and run around and scream. I’m sure you are annoyed with your kids at this point, but don’t take that out on us who have chosen not to travel with children. Thank you in advance!

Best Advice you will receive reading this..

Boarding your aircraft– please pay very close attention… EVERY single airline will give you a boarding zone or number- this number means you can sit in the chairs provided throughout the gate area until that zone or number is called. So- if you are in zones 2, 3, or 4… there is no purpose for you to stand and crowd the boarding area. I repeat: there is no reason for you to stand as close the boarding door as possible. You are literally annoying the life out of anyone who has traveled more than 3 times. This one is not totally your fault (but it is) – I somewhat blame the airlines for causing this mass chaos. Can’t everyone just be like Southwest and give people a number. We are clearly (by we I mean most people, not myself) not smart enough to figure this one out on our own. And Delta- your boarding is the worst. You have zones names Premium and Sky… and then you go to zone 1. Is this to make people feel good for a short period of time- or just to confuse them?

Now let’s get to “How to fly and not bother your neighbors…”

Starting with the window seat. For those who love the window seat, let’s go over some ground rules:

1. If it’s a flight prior to 7:45am, your window is to remain down for the duration of your flight. There are people who are trying to sleep and nothing is more annoying than you sleeping with your window shade up while those around you have the sun in their eyes. From the moment you get on the plane, shut that thing. Do you really need to look at the tarmac and the workers loading bags and stocking snacks on the plane– I’ll answer for you- “no, you don’t.” And once the plane is in the sky- you are most likely above the clouds- you have seen clouds, and they look the same and they are white- and once again you are annoying someone who now has the sun in their eyes.

2. You should never ever ever assume that someone would trade you their middle seat just so they can sit with their family. Nope- sorry- just think about that one on your own for a second……

3. Please don’t assume the person next to you wants to talk. Leave people alone. Yes be nice, say hi, but then mind your own. And if your seat mate is wearing headphones- that is sign language for “please don’t bother me!”

4. This is a weird one- but quite honestly- you shouldn’t really be having in-depth conversations on planes with people. This means that you are likely talking the whole flight and everyone around you is in your conversation, annoyed, and wishing you would zip it, but too nice to say anything. Save your meetings for offices.

5. Never ever should you have your volume on your phone or iPad or whatever you are playing Candy Crush on. No one wants to listen to that sound.

6. Babies and flying: just don’t do it- unless you have great travel experience. If you have traveled a lot- you will understand why not to bring your young children. If you must– please bring them headphones and a movie player- it’s a requirement on all airlines now (just joking- but it should be).

7. Deboarding the plane: please pay close attention here as well. This process is just as bad as boarding. Deplaning can be a smooth process if people are smart, but as you can see from this blog, not many people who fly are smart. This process should have in an orderly fashion- each row should empty entirely- starting with the front and making its way back- to make this easy- start with 1A and the B and C and then move over to 1D followed by E and F. Also to make this even more simple- if you sit in the aisle seat, you have the room to get out of your seat and grab your bag and stand in the walkway. Be nice and grab the bags of fellow seat mates and hand them over to them so they can quickly file off the plane. Once row 1 is all complete, we move to row 2, then 3- you get the idea yet? So if you are in row 9, wait your damn turn- you do not have the authority to go before row 7- but wait- your have a super tight connection and need to hurry off– sorry- so do most of us. *one side note, if you are elderly and slow, no disrespect, but you can wait and let others go in front of you. The wheelchairs waiting for you in the tunnel will still be there- those are not first come-first serve.

8. Getting your bags. Another one of those really annoying times- let’s start with – “Move your little kids and your strollers and baggage carts clear away from the baggage area..” and stand clear back. You hugging the conveyer does not make your bags magically appear. Since you are new to this, your bag is not going to come out first- they have priority baggage which means frequent travelers will get their first – so get back – please…

If you can follow all these rules, you are guaranteed to have a great day– actually- the frequent travelers around you will secretly be thanking you!

CHEERS- and I hope to see you in an airport soon- just joking- I hope that you are driving to your destination…..