Walking benefits your heart, lungs, eyes and mood. Vince and I hiked around our home resort which we’ve named Bellavista.
It wasn’t long until the man with the photographic eye took over my phone. Don’t you love this piece? For years Vince had drooled over our friend’s stove lying half buried in her field. When he asked if he could dig it out of its burial place at her house, she gave it up. It works perfectly now.
The hike continued to the columbines I planted last year and thought they were duds. Vince thinks they look like aliens.
From there we headed south through the cat sanctuary to the winter gardens which I planted last fall.
The cats from all around think this is their oasis, complete with a climbing pole. We moved through the garden quickly to avoid seeing any chores.
Taking one last look at the garden, we walked west into the true front of our resort lawn.
Two weeks ago I bought an azalea to remind me of the beautiful Northwest where I spent my teen years. Vince ignored and focused on our cat, Moji’s favorite hiding place.
From there we hiked across the flatland through the iron gates to the east garden. Vince started designing it last year, but water was a problem. I gave him an ultimatum- no water and I would give him the garden back. We had water back there before the week ended. The good news is that now it is our joint garden.
I took out my compost piles and he built some steps down to the next level as you look toward Cottonwood Creek. “It’s hardscape, Marsha.”
That is Vincespeak for a new seating area to look out on the creek, which is running right now.
In a few years the weeds will be replaced by a path down to the creek and probably more hardscape. For now it’s amazing to have the garden ready to grow tomatoes and other summer plants.
So now you know how we are fighting the Coronavirus. What have you been doing? Stay safe and healthy.
A friend told me about Valley of Fire Nevada State Park and insisted that we visit the next time we went to Vegas. So we rented a car, packed up a few essentials and took off around 9:00 am after breakfast. The weather at the end of February hovered at 56-65 degrees perfect for driving and hiking.
Valley of Fire State Park is 55 miles north-east of Las Vegas, but don’t be fooled by the brochure. It’s a two-hour drive. There are two ways to get there from the Strip, and we chose the journey through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. There aren’t many services on the way, so stock up before you go.
Our List of Trip Essentials
A friend or loved one. Beautiful experiences are meant to be shared.
A rental car- cheaper than driving our own at $19 per day.
Bottles of water, provided by our timeshare, Diamond Resorts – Polo Towers.
A bag of mixed nuts and fruit, mixed and packed at home from large bags of nuts and dried fruit from Costco or any healthy snack.
Sunscreen SPF 50 or better.
A pass for National Parks, which saves a lot of money if you remember to bring it. This admits you to the National Recreation Area but not the State Park. They give you a large map and park newspaper which we had dog-eared before we left.
Change to put the $10 fee in the envelope at Valley of Fire State Park. It’s better than getting a $250 fine for skipping out.
Your camera or cell phone.
The intelligence not to take a selfie on the edge of a cliff.
Pictures from the Valley of Fire
We entered from the East. It’s always good to take a record shot or two to mark the beginning of your trip. There are plenty of photo-ready views. Just add yours and your friends’ faces to make them perfect.
The lighting isn’t perfect when you shoot into the sun, but the rocks weren’t moving so you can alter them in Photoshop or do what I did and settle for less than perfect lighting.
When I was growing up all the new homes came with floor to ceiling picture windows in the living room. The view from our Indiana home never had a picture like this one outside!
From there we drove up the two lane highway no farther than a mile to the next turn off to see the seven sisters. Seriously, I’m sure one of the sisters was either an alien or a president. Which do you think?
I jumped out of the car to get the sister’s better side. I’m pretty sure she’s an old man.
He must be tired. His eyes droop. He needs a turtle neck sweater to cover his neck wrinkles. His tight-lipped visage makes him look hangry. He’s been in a few too many fights and the report from his nose is that he lost most of them. I moved in for a better look.
His ear is missing. My husband tells me that he likes not hearing. Do you think he cut off his own ears? Seven sisters – hmmm. Maybe he paints in his spare time.
Up close I noticed that his skin could use some treatments. I’ve got some 110 SPF sunscreen that might help. It won’t cure old age spots, but it might prevent additional ones. It could soothe the crackling. The summer sun in Nevada is brutal. Take a tip from him and don’t forget to reapply your own sunscreen.
At our next stop, we found some animal habitats but not too many animals. This one looked like a brick of red Swiss cheese. Waiting around the corner was a museum and another loo with a view.
Inside the museum, you could watch videos and study the flora and fauna or hike outside. In the distance sat a toad obviously waiting for a kiss. I think he might have been waiting quite a while. He looked petrified.
You couldn’t take a bad picture in this state park. I dare you to try. Feel free to share yours in the comment section or on my Facebook page, Always Write.
You can get too carried away with information shots. Do you even read them while you are there let alone in the thirty seconds you spend reading a blog post? I admit I read only the headline before whipping out my phone to snap the photo.
This is as far west as we went, so there is a lot more to explore in this park, but we wanted to backtrack and see a museum at the Lost City in the National Recreation Area. We returned to Las Vegas via I 15.
Visitor Information Center & Loos
The park is open from sunrise to sunset unless you camp in designated areas. Notice that there are no drones allowed, and no off-road motorized vehicles. We ran into Adam Bautz, a guide who conducts tours of the park for private parties of all skill levels. You can reach him at email@example.com 702-624-1050. This is somewhere we want to come again and spend more time.
Hi hobby photographers, Go ta few pictures you don’t know what to do with other than to store them on your phone?
We know that vacations are good for us. You and your family collectively have taken hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures. What do you do with them all? To create something special I use Canva for blog posts, ads, posters or anything with text.
HolidayCards Do you browse through the card section of the store for a good laugh? Some of your photos might make great cards or memes even. Holidays happen almost every month and offer you even more opportunities to use your great photos. It takes only a week or two at the most to turn your photos into your own “Hallmark” cards. You might even want to use digitized photos of your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents. Don’t you love all those repurposed old photos? “Happy birthday” (picture on the front of card of a deeply wrinkled woman with no teeth from the 1920s) Inside – “Remember me? You were a year ahead of me in high school.”
Write a blog post. Blogs are great journals. You can use a blog to record and share the stories of your life with your friends. Sometimes just sharing on Facebook, Instagram or other social media is not enough. Besides, in order to find the picture or vacation, you have to sort through all your pictures. Having a blog allows you to share more information that you might want to remember later, including your feelings. Because you can use alt tags, and captions as well as titles on your photos, blogs also allow you to retrieve your memories much easier than social media. Trying to remember the date you traveled and scanning your Facebook timeline or waiting for Facebook to share a memory with you wastes hours of your time. If you are a blogger, don’t forget Photo Challenges that connect you with so many more people.
Create a book. These make amazing Christmas or birthday presents for people you love. We often share our photos, but taking the time to create a book they can have on their coffee table adds a dimension of care. Costco did a great job for me, but Walmart, Vistaprint, and other online printing services do a good job as well.
Create a mug. One of my favorite possessions is a mug that has a picture of my mother and me at Stonehenge. Now you can’t even go as close to the rocks as we did, so it recorded history, and my mother is gone now and that was one of the few vacations that we did together.
Create a puzzle There are two ways to create puzzles. Digital puzzles are free, easier to access from anywhere you go and less messy. You can download an app from Free Jigsaw Puzzles that allows you to create your own digital puzzles. The Jigsaw Planet, another site on which you can make online puzzles to share or keep private, has tips for making classy online puzzles. You can make traditional puzzles, puzzle cards and other puzzle products using Walmart, Shutterfly, Oriental Trading Company, and new businesses that seem to start up daily. Walmart offers great prices and I would rate the quality at about a seven out of ten. I have used Create Jigsaw Puzzles and they are better quality, but about twice the cost. On the backside of a jigsaw puzzle, you can create learning tools after you have worked the puzzle by writing math or history facts on matching puzzle pieces. Break the pieces apart and the child works the wrong side of the puzzle. This works great on puzzles that are 24 pieces or less.
Create playing cards Even though there are a myriad of card games on the market, nothing beats a simple game of rummy if you are bored at home or on vacation with your kids or grandkids. What better way to remind them of good times in the past, but with a deck of cards with pictures from a former vacay. If you want to sell your own cards, you might use Make Your Own Playing Cards.
Purchase a digital frame Our kids gave us a digital picture frame loaded with pictures they took from several of our vacations together. It rotates through pictures at whatever speed you set. Your family can also load their own pictures onto the frame. It’s the perfect gift for busy professionals with an office. It helps people to get to know them better and gives them a mental break in the middle of the day.
Computer mouse pads If you’re in business, these are great free gifts for customers. Look at your own mouse pad. What are you using? I am using a large mouse pad from where I worked, and my husband is doing the same. How much better would it be to give someone one of your vacation pictures for a present? Who buys their own mousepad?
Canvas or metal prints Do you know someone who is moving into a new house? This might be the perfect gift for them. More and more people hang pictures and yard art outside their homes. Or, consider this: how about using your photo for a backdrop for an award or plaque?
Calendars Do people still use calendars? They do if they are personalized. Not only that, they keep personal calendars for years. The quality of the print is good and the paper is thick and they last long enough to pass them down. Sorting through to find the best twelve pictures is a great mental activity that promotes speaking and reasoning skills in children. This makes a great gift for the grandparents.
If your looking for more ideas quickly, just Google your question and look at the different services. You can use your photos to make blankets, shirts, binders, pillows and any number of other products.
If you’re looking for a place to take more photos and want for a fabulous vacation for a fantastic price, check out an Always Write Travel Opportunities. Spend a week in Vegas Feb. 23-March 1 for only $511. Upgrade to a two-bedroom (if available) for only $611. (My picture using a Canva template)
Hundreds of researchers have been studying the effects of vacationing on you for years. The good news is that there is so much proof that taking a break for a vacation is good for you that we almost don’t need to write about it. But since we write, it’s a great topic.
Even God rests. The writer of the book of Genesis recorded God’s vacation guidelines from work. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work.” God even made the day holy to encourage his creation to rest one day per week.
In the United States, most people “live for the weekends,” but we often fill those days with more work. I wonder what God did to rest. Could he have sat back and enjoyed the beautiful areas he created? If we are going to enjoy those wonderful places around the world, it is going to take us longer than a day to get there. It’s going to take a vacation.
Have you taken a vacation recently and traveled somewhere new?
“Sabine Sonnentag, Ph.D., an organizational psychologist at the University of Mannheim in Germany has explored the effects of vacations. In a meta-analysis of the research, she and her colleagues found that vacations have small positive effects on people’s health and well-being, with people reporting less exhaustion, fewer health complaints, and greater life satisfaction after time away. However, those benefits declined within a few weeks after returning to work.” (Journal of Occupational Health, Vol. 51, No. 1, 2009). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/01/break So it seems that to take regular vacations would help you stay healthier longer.
BENEFITS FOR TAKING A BREAK FROM WORK
Stress reduction is one of the major health benefits of taking a vacation if you turn off your phone or limit when you respond to it. Looking at the phone takes a person out of the present and back into a stressful environment. Visiting a resort offers you scheduled times to get away from your phone. Our resort offers activities like taking a tour, fitness classes, getting a massage, learning a new skill like banjo playing, or jewelry making. Even taking a vacation somewhere to do a volunteer project will get your mind off work and into something relaxing.
Heart disease prevention. The Framingham Heart Study, which started in Framingham, MA in 1948 and continues today to identify common factors or characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease, revealed that both men and women who didn’t take a vacation for several years were more likely to have heart attacks compared to those who did not take time off.
Improved productivity Think you’re on a roll and you just have to keep going? Think again! New research by the U.S. Travel Association and Project: Time Off shows that a majority of bosses surveyed agree that vacation improves an employee’s focus (78 percent) and alleviates burnout (81 percent). Why? Because your mind and body get tired and when you get tired, you can’t focus. You need something to rejuvenate your enthusiasm. When you go away, your subconscious produces new ideas and gains new perspectives on old problems.
BENEFITS FOR BUILDING VACATION MEMORIES
Remember the good times. People want to forget bad times and vacations help them do just that. Twenty-three percent of Americans in the western states vacation in order to build memories. Facebook thrives because of your memories. Inspired by hearing people talk about what they wanted, Facebook created products to help people bring back the good times. One researcher. Artie Konrad focused his Ph.D. research on reminiscence and technology. For example, technology provides new opportunities to help us remember our pasts, which can have a positive impact on our well-being. He and his advisor “developed a new memories experience that generates monthly and seasonal photo recaps of recent events, like your summer or the holiday season.” All we have to do is to make memories and take pictures. Photo tips from a pro.
Improve life for people with dementia. Speaking of remembering the past, Alzheimers’ Australia recommends that patients review photos often and consistently. Holiday photos are among the categories of photos that bring back good memories. Build those memories now so you will have something to review later with your parents or children. There are many other ways to use photos besides Facebook and Snapchat.
Improved test scores for students Most parents would do anything in their power to ensure a good life for their children. Vacations may be one of the most powerful tools in their toolkit. Think of a vacation as a field trip. One study conducted by the University of Arkansas found that students that participate in a field trip to an art museum show increased empathy, tolerance and critical thinking skills. Parents who provide these field-based learning opportunities not only improve their children’s chances for academic success, they also add life skills.
These six benefits only scratch the surface of why you need a vacation. In the United States, millions of hours of paid time off go unused every year. “By giving up this time off, Americans are effectively volunteering hundreds of millions of days of free work for their employers, which results in $61.4 billion in forfeited benefits.”
January 28, 2020, was National Plan Your Vacation Day. If you want the least stress and the most enjoyment take a few enjoyable hours and plan your next trip. Talk about it, look up places to visit in the area. You and your family will get more excited and have more enjoyment out of the process.
Vacationing in a Hotel, Rented Timeshare, or Air BnB
Even authors take some time off. Photographers live for scenic vacations.
You are shopping for your next vacation and there are so many options. Hotels, timeshare resorts, Bed and Breakfast, Air BnB, VRBO and so much more. Which type of rental is right for you?
Professionals run the hotel industry but individuals usually sell their timeshares and private homes on Air BnB and similar venues. In addition to their own advertising and online booking, large hotel chains rely on companies like Expedia and Trip Advisor to bring in business. That may be your go-to starting place. Individuals struggle to compete since usually do not have an advertising budget or a website.
If you haven’t looked recently, Expedia includes everything from budget hotels to private residences and even some Timeshare Resorts. Individuals may contract with them to help market their homes and timeshares.
Typically Timeshare companies like Redweek or Sell Your Timeshare Now market to individuals who want to list their available weeks or sell their timeshares. People wanting to rent timeshares may not think to visit those sites as well.
Comparing Hotels, Timeshares, and Air BnB
Hotel rooms can easily range from $60 to $400 per night. For those prices, you usually don’t get a full kitchen, extra bedrooms, a living room, dining room, and more than one bath.
Timeshares range from studio apartments to three-bedroom apartments or two-bedroom with a lockout room, but the prices are more like a single room hotel, so $70-$400 per night. They are a great bargain! If you’ve never heard of a lockout room, it is like an additional full hotel room with a partial kitchen, but there is a connecting door to the main unit. This is great when you have guests because the full condo and the lockout each have their own entrance.
Private homes/rooms/condos usually sold on Air BnB or VRMO also range from $70 to $400 a night. They can be any size from a bedroom in an occupied home with a shared bath to an entire home, condo, or apartment. Generally, these whole house options are someone’s second home.
The ambiance of timeshare resorts and upscale hotels are similar. There are beautiful pool and spa areas, a lovely restaurant on-site, and fitness rooms. The rooms are all similar – decorated nicely. They are usually uniform in their provisions (bathroom supplies, kitchen equipment, furnishings) Timeshares go the extra step over hotels with activity rooms and coordinated activities, a concierge who will book trips, barbeques, full kitchens, cleaning during the week and at the end of the week.
The feeling in an Air BnB is much more personal. You are using items that belong to someone, and they are unique. Sometimes they are beautiful, and other times not so much. You don’t always know what you are getting from the pictures. The decor and furnishings may not be up to date, and may not even be super clean. Sometimes you are staying in someone’s home where they also live. That can be interesting or intrusive, depending on the owner. Sometimes there is no one to let you in, and you can’t find the key. It’s always different. It’s never bland.
Hotels and Timeshares are convenient. Someone will greet you and check you in. If you need anything 24/7, there is a porter to bring it to you. If you forgot something, there is often a little convenience store in the resort or hotel. Someone cleans your room while you are there if you want them to do so. You can always request privacy, but it is easy to get your room picked up daily or at least mid-week if you want that service. There is never food in the refrigerator or cabinets, but there is almost always coffee, salt, and pepper, cream, and sugar.
Timeshares usually have kitchens and all the cooking utensils at your disposal, including electric appliances for the asking. There is always a hairdryer, iron, ironing board, television, and a land-line phone.
In an Air BnB, you never know, but you can’t count on any of the above items. It depends on the owner. There is rarely anyone to greet you or help you with convenience items. That being said, you might find a timeshare listed on Air BnB. It is harder for the timeshare owner to do this because they might not have adequate pictures to advertise the unit.
Hotels have the most flexible schedules. Unless there is a convention in town, you can almost always find a hotel room available in any city you want to visit. You can call them up directly to book or reserve a room through a third party agent like Expedia.
Timeshares may not be as easy to find because owners have to book them up to a year in advance, and they may not list available units on Expedia or one of the other frequented booking agents. You can find timeshares on Redweek and other Timeshare sites, but only people interested in renting a Timeshare go to those sites. They are not often available on Air BnB, although that is changing.
People wanting to rent private homes may find them on Expedia, but they are usually costly. Those who are looking for a uniquely individual experience often go to Air BnB first, the same as resort seekers go to Redweek or other Timeshare sites. There are fewer resorts or private residences available in big city downtown places simply because downtowns are by nature, usually businesses and hotels.
There are so many options for travelers all over the world. This is the time to travel.