Yellow Stills or Still Yellow?

Meeting a blogger, and showing off the countryside, traveling with a friend – two of my favorite things to do. Taking pictures, it doesn’t get much better.

#Sunday Stills: Theme Yellow

Exploring Sunny California

Meeting up with my blogging friend, Terri W. Schrandt made my week. We had such a great time hiking through the foothills in the Sierra Nevadas as we drove a short way into the Sequoia National Park.

Terri Webster Schrandt and Marsha Ingrao at Sequoia National Park looking for yellow.

What a joy it was to finally meet my blogger friend Terri. We don’t live too far apart now, but we are both moving in opposite directions, so I was super happy to spend a few hours with her.

The overwhelming impression you get from this picture is not yellow, but the golden hour sun warmed our skin and made our hair sparkle with yellow and strawberry highlights.

Bear butt

You can see the double/quadruple double yellow line in this shot, so you know that I stopped in the middle of the highway as the bear lumbered across. The car behind me didn’t honk and probably had his camera out and ready to go faster than I could find my phone and snap the picture.

The bear headed into the grass that nearly matched the color of the yellow lines. You can see a much better shot of the bear on Terri’s Sunday Stills post today.

Scouting the Housing Market in Prescott, Arizona

A mere two or three days before my friend Terri came to visit, I was gallivanting around Arizona, a mere nine hours and forty-one minutes away from home. My husband sent me on a house hunting trip, and my friend Patty Decker agreed to go with me.

Marigold bathroom in Prescott Valley, AZ model home

Yellow must be the newest color in new housing. My friend Patti and I saw this stunning home called the Marigold in Prescott Valley in a development called Proghorn Ranch. We both wanted to unpack our bags and stay. The skies were clear and blue instead of dusty and the bathroom was golden.

Bell tower in Tlaquepaque shopping mall.

In monsoon season it rains and cools off twenty or more degrees in the Arizona Desert. After a brief downpour, we enjoyed a relaxing yellow walk around the most artistic shopping mall in the country.

Javelinas on Parade

I thought these Javelinas on Parade display were cute, brightly painted pig statues, but no, they are not even related to the pig family. The Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) or collared peccary, are medium-sized animals that have short coarse salt and pepper colored hair, short legs, and a pig-like nose.

They look cute in the statues, but so do raccoons. So even though they are classified as herbivores, I don’t think I’d want to run into one in the middle of the night.

Home again with the two legged-yellow squash picked this morning from my garden.

Back Home in Safe, Sunny California

As these two yellow squash grew together, Terri slept peacefully in the cabana in the back yard. I had no clue that our tiny dog would incite the wrath of a mother raccoon when she went out at 3:30 in the morning. Terri woke and thought a band of coyotes were howling in the nearby foothills surrounding our house, but it was me screaming at the raccoon.

I overcame my yellow-squashy tendencies and rescued my dog with my coyote yelps and a swift kick to the raccoon’s mid-section. She then got off the top of my dog and stood up and started to lunge at me. I jumped back but not quite fast enough. She snagged me once with either teeth or claws, I couldn’t tell which. There was a yellow stripe going up my back. I was sure she was going to attack me again as we faced off, but she scurried away

My husband woke up when my poor dog screeched her way to the bedroom telling him how scared she had been. I zipped off to the hospital to get the necessary rabies and tetanus shots.

Thanks for reading my yellow stories, both the yellow stills and me still being yellow. Please check out more stories on Terri’s Sunday Stills, and enjoy Becky B’s July square photo challenge.

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Melbourne’s Walk in the Park Tour: Treasury Gardens

Melbourne’s Walk – Danger Avoided

This post disappeared from Always Write in the chaos of moving the site to this domain. It is part of an Australian travel series written in 2016-17 but the pictures and memories are beautiful. I hope you enjoy them.

Jo’s Monday Walks, Cee’s Which Way Challenge Australia Series#2 Treasury Gardens

Our trip did not start out as Melbourne’s walk in the park. Quite the opposite.

The Eternal Traveller and I flew into Melbourne under a dark cloud. Minutes after arriving at our Airbnb across from the State Library, it poured. I slid on the tiled sidewalks like a neophyte on ice and had to change from slippery sandals into my “stabilization shoes.” (ie trainers, walking shoes, tennis shoes – I’m acquiring a new vocabulary in Australia.)  

Suburbs flooded. I would not put money, no matter how much was in the treasury, on having a walk in any park near Melbourne, Victoria the day we arrived.

Melbourne's walk
Tram window view of the Treasury Building in Melbourne, Victoria

Perfect Weather for a Melbourne Walk

We discovered if you liked the weather, too bad, it would change. If you did not like the weather, “good on ya,” it would change.

“There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.”

Robert Burns, Collected Poems of Robert Burns

We started our journey with a free tram around the city center. The tram had its purposes, but photography could not be counted as a benefit. Through the dirty window, I snapped a picture of the Treasury Building, now a museum.

Sure enough, the weather changed the next day. We started our journey with a free tram around the city center. The tram had its purposes, but photography could not be counted as a benefit. Through the dirty window, I snapped a picture of the Treasury Building, now a museum.

The First Garden Stop: Treasury Gardens

Melbourne, a metropolis of over 5,000,000 surprised me with so many parks in the Central Business District (CBD). Melbourne’s walk in the park relaxed visitors and residents alike. The large city park center features ornamental ponds, elegant plant, birds, and statue.Melbourne's walk

Melbourne residents, stressed out from the normal wear and tear of life, should indulge in one of Melbourne’s walk in the parks.  Mrs. ET and I wandered into the Treasury Gardens and stepped back into another world. Residents and visitors alike watched their troubles slip over the waterfall and lost them in the ornamental ponds. We had no worries. We were on holiday, and nothing could have been better for us than Melbourne’s walk in the park.

Melbourne's walk
So close to the city.

Off at Federation Square

Stop six on the official “Walk in the Park Guide,” which you can get as an app or pick up the Visitor’s Center in Federation Square, took us to the Danger Zone.

Melbourne's walk

Danger Keep Out

Signs do not deter determined teachers on vacation. Mrs. Eternal Traveller led the way and we marched across the grass around the signs prepared to keep people away from fireworks later in the week. We watched workers as they prepared for the next event in the park.

Melbourne's walk
Melbourne worker prepares for fireworks.

As we rounded the bend, I caught my breath at my first sight of the Victorian gardens.

Melbourne's walk

European settlers came to Melbourne in abundance during the 1850s as the Gold Rush in Ballarat, Victoria. They changed the landscape of the state of Victoria Australia in much the same way the 1849 Gold Rush altered California. According to Wikipedia, “During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it (Melbourne) was transformed into one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities.[17” One result was the flourishing of Melbourne’s public gardens replete with statues, fountains, trees, birds, and birds of paradise and other flowers.

Ornamental Pond with Fountains

Melbourne's walk

Treasury Gardens Ornamental pond

The ponds housed several breeds of birds who checked to see if we came ready to feed them.

Melbourne's walk

Magpie

Like good environmentalists, we did not come armed with bread which Audubon Societies recommend against and laws in many states prohibit.

Melbourne's walk

Mrs. ET and I, cameras in hand, headed two different directions as soon as the ponds appeared. Ornamental ponds formed the backdrop for the vibrant flowers.

Melbourne's walk

Mrs. ET loved these succulents which I overlooked at first glance around the array of beautiful flowers.

Flowers In Paradise

Melbourne's walk

Guarding the plaque of President Kennedy, these delicate orange bells peeked from their chalky coating. They thrilled Mrs. ET. I snapped several shots of her burying her camera into these slender beauties lining one of the large fountains. While she had her nose in these, I snuck up on a bird of paradise.

Melbourne's walk

Bird of Paradise

“Don’t move,” I warned him. And he stayed right where I wanted him.

Melbourne's walk

Plaques and Statues

All around me, I noticed that Australians practice honoring their past with statues, flowers, and commemorative walls, buildings. My hosts demonstrated great pride in their past.  Mrs. ET pointed out the significance of contributions of every statue featured in the Gardens.

Throughout our travels, we found statues in gardens and buildings in every city honored citizens, storybook characters, or historical persons from Australia and other countries. Robert Burns, the poet, lounged in the Gardens, but he avoided my camera somehow, as did William Clarke.

The face of President Kennedy kept a keen eye on the Treasury Building while we looked on. On a hot day, he might be tempted to hop into the waterfall behind him.

Melbourne's walk
Plaque of John F. Kennedy

You, Too May Need a Loo

Many have recognized the beauty of these Treasury Garden restrooms with wrought iron doors. These were constructed for a Spring Carnival and floral festival in 1939. The art deco structure exhibited craftsmanship from an era gone by that would be very expensive to bring back.

Melbourne's walk

The Loo

After a leisurely stroll through the beautiful gardens, we had no desire to head back to the bustle of the city.

Melbourne's walk

Treasury Gardens Loo

After a leisurely stroll through the beautiful gardens, we had no desire to head back to the bustle of the city.

Fortunately, for us, Fitzroy Gardens was across the street. We headed over there for the next part of our walk in Melbourne.

Location

2-18 Spring Street

East Melbourne VIC 3002

If you have a post about Melbourne to link to this post, feel free to do so in the comments or by email.

Click Like if you’ve ever been to Treasury Park.

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Another Fabulous, Low-Cost Trip Minutes from Las Vegas

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.

Lake Mead National Recreational Area

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

This is what the Australians call a loo with a view!

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.

Welcome to my new home.

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.

The picture window inside if the rock home

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!

The house next door – a little tighter, but shelter from a storm.

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?

One of the Seven Sisters

I jumped out of the car to get the sister’s better side. I’m pretty sure she’s an old man.

Not his best side

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.

Oh dear!

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.

This looked like a brick of Swiss Cheese. Mouse’s Tank wasn’t far away. (Mouse was an outlaw.)

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.

Loo with a view # two

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.

Prince Charming kept a lookout amid creosote bush, burro bush and brittlebrush.

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.

Information

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.

Fingerlings?

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 adam@outdoortraveltours.com 702-624-1050. This is somewhere we want to come again and spend more time.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH ALL MY DIGITAL VACATION PHOTOGRAPHS?

Reblogged from Always Write

Hi hobby photographers, Got a 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.

Yosemite National Part
  1. Holiday Cards 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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?
  9. 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?
  10. 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)

Las Vegas Polo Towers Getaway
Contact Marsha Ingrao to upgrade to a two-bedroom unit for $611 at tchistorygal@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

SIX BENEFITS OF TAKING PLANNED VACATIONS

Reposted from Always Write

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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 picturesPhoto tips from a pro.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

CONCLUSION

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.

START PLANNING NOW!

Always Write Travel Blogging has some great deals on vacation resort rentals. What’s on YOUR Facebook page?