Liesbet has been a blogging friend of mine for quite a while and I have enjoyed reading her posts and having her comment on my posts as well. My hat’s off to her in publishing this memoir.
Truly, I can’t imagine taking the plunge that Liesbet Collaert did. What an adventure! After reading D. G. Kay’s review, I purchased the book using the Amazon link below. I hope you will take the same plunge that I did (much less dangerous than Liesbet’s Plunge) and order her book. (no profit in this for me, BTW)
Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.
Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.
Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.
Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?
Author Bio Liesbet Collaert
Liesbet Collaert is a bilingual freelance writer, translator, editor, and photographer from Belgium who has been writing and traveling her entire life. Her work is published internationally in anthologies and magazines, including Cruising World, Blue Water Sailing, Ocean Navigator, Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, Islands, Yachting World, Sailing Today, All At Sea, Caribbean Compass, and Zeilen. She also created walking tours for Marigot and Philipsburg in St. Martin.
The author has been interviewed about her alternative lifestyle by Multihull Sailor, Modern Day Nomads, Ocean Navigator, The Wayward Home, The Professional Hobo, and Grey Globetrotters among others. She contributed to extensive cruising surveys for All At Sea and Caribbean Compass and became an assistant-editor for Caribbean Compass in January 2019.
Liesbet loves animals, nature, and the promise of adventure. A nomad since 2003, she calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog.
Find her stories and photos at www.itsirie.com and www.roamingabout.com. Plunge is her first book. Liesbet’s memoir is being well received by ARC-readers and sailing magazines and some reviews are already available on Goodreads.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
As we rounded the bend, I caught my breath at my first sight of the Victorian gardens.
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
Treasury Gardens Ornamental pond
The ponds housed several breeds of birds who checked to see if we came ready to feed them.
Like good environmentalists, we did not come armed with bread which Audubon Societies recommend against and laws in many states prohibit.
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.
Mrs. ET loved these succulents which I overlooked at first glance around the array of beautiful flowers.
Flowers In Paradise
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.
Bird of Paradise
“Don’t move,” I warned him. And he stayed right where I wanted him.
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.
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 exhibitedcraftsmanship from an era gone by that would be very expensive to bring back.
After a leisurely stroll through the beautiful gardens, we had no desire to head back to the bustle of the city.
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.
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.
Stare at this view. With a backpack full of food and a water bottle handy, we had the privilege of doing this for as long as we wanted without worrying about how we would survive. Gazing across the Grand Canyon, we let our minds wander about how it might be to live there.
We wondered how the trees could root around to find enough water to turn even the spiniest needles green. But suppose we had to depend on this view to house, clothe, and shelter us?
That thought made us grateful for the stores and modern conveniences we enjoy today without considering how they got there and continue to exist. Indeed, with the coming of the ubiquitous Amazon online grocery stores, the rumor is that we will soon be able to buy everything we need from Amazon and in some locations enjoy a two-hour delivery time. Humans today may never have to leave their homes to even gather food.
But that was not the case for these ancient desert dwellers.
Visit the Tusayan Museum and Ruin
This easy paved path to the museum and through the Tusayan Village or gathering loop makes a beautiful walk through the park. Yet it was very unlike what the natives must have faced living here day after day. Merely lining a path with the abundant decorative rock, makes it a thing of beauty. During the days of habitation, though, it is doubtful that so much greenery and stones would be used only to beautify the environment as it is today.
The Gathering Loop Where the Early Puebloans Shopped
Like the sign says, it’s only a .01 mile loop shopping center. What could you do with a yucca and a pinyon pine? There was not a lot of variety here to provide needed items for food, clothing, and shelter.
The daytime weather in September might not warrant a need for many clothes. The temperatures soared into the high seventies by mid-afternoon. By night they ancient Puebloans might have needed at least a blanket. They might make a basket out of pine needles, but a pine blanket would be somewhat scratchy and not very cozy.
To make baskets out of pine needles requires that you soak them in water overnight first to make them pliable enough to bend, twist, and weave into a basket. We did not see an abundance of water springing out of the ground at this site. So we wondered how they made baskets.
Off the trail, a few inches this beautiful daisy grew amid some sparse grasses. Probably you could eat the daisy, but it would not be very filling. You might weave the stems into a basket, but the petals would not last. Maybe the pollen would attract bees, and you could harvest the honey for food. The dead tree might be useful to create some shoes or better yet, digging tools. There might be some tasty bugs living on the decaying wood. The grasses might be soft enough to weave into some light-weight summer clothing or a blanket. Small sizes only!
Caring for Trees
Walking along the path, you see more fallen logs and branches. We learned that they did use wood in their buildings for ladders and frames for the rocks which they piled together to build walls. If they wanted windows, wood frames were essential. One guide told us that in the days of habitation there would not have been this many trees along the path. Shopping would have been more limited than it is today.
Possibly, however, the trees were in better shape because the ancient people harvested from them and cared for them. The oak trees in Central California were undoubtedly more prolific and better cared for during the time with the Yokuts Indians inhabited the rich Southern San Joaquin Valley. Since they harvested the acorns for making flour, the native people took better care of the trees, and no doubt saved some of the acorns to plant more trees.
Ancient Puebloan Housing
Here you can see the foundation of their houses. Possibly in the middle circle, there was a place for a fire. You can imagine how the Puebloans would use every small scrap of wood.
The rectangular shapes of the stones look perfect for stacking. Don’t you wonder how they transported them to their housing sites? Were there plenty of rocks in one area, so they built several homes here, or did they have to scavenge the flatland and carry their stones to the homesites. Possibly the remodeled and added to the rocks that had been built by an earlier inhabitant that had moved on or died out.
Here you see how nicely the stones stacked. They might have held them together with dirt mixed with urine to make the mud. Apparently, that made a durable cement. In the foreground, you see what we would use as ornamental flowers in our yards. I wonder what gems these tiny yellow flowers held for the native desert dwellers.
As you can tell, subsistence in this location would be difficult. They might have gathered insects that swarmed out from under the rocks when they dug them out. Flowers and grasses would not have sustained them for very long. Maybe the kids ate rocks like the children in the book Stone Soup or my brother when he was young. More likely they used the rocks to kill or wound larger animals which would have provided more adequate clothing, blankets, and food.
It did not take long to complete the .01 mile loop. You can imagine that it took several days for park workers to create this beautiful path that only takes visitors minutes to amble around. Yet, as they walked along the way, what thoughts do you think filtered through their minds? No one talked much, so it’s hard to say.
Before I tell about this wonderful resort in Sedona, you should know this. Although Diamond Resorts is a timeshare, anyone can book this vacation extravaganza through Expedia or other online booking sites. Sometimes booking a timeshare is less expensive than booking a regular hotel room.
One more important fact. I’m not selling timeshares! We own a Diamond Resorts timeshare but have been many places, and this is one of our favorites.
A Perfect Day for a Walk
Vince and I ambled out of our spacious suite at Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona for a morning walk around the grounds.
Originally, T.C. and Sedona Schnebly built the first hotel on this site in Sedona in 1901. He and his brother settled here, planted an apple orchard and vegetable garden. The 1986 resort retains the flavor and charm of an earlier time.
We Found So Many Things to Love
View We left our room in too much of a hurry to take this picture this morning, so this evening I snapped the picture so you could see the red rocks from our patio.
Sedona’s red rocks vistas enthrall visitors wherever they turn.
Surrounded in three directions by the red rocks you can’t walk any path without your mouth ajar at the beauty.
Architecture Structures reflect the beauty of Sedona’s backdrop. Spanish and Pueblo-style buildings and fountains reflect the past, but the although it looks antique, the resort was dedicated in 1986.
This was the site of the first hotel, Sedona Post Office, and store. Today Suite 110 is the largest most elegant facility we saw on our resort walk. It would be a perfect place for an executive council meeting for CCSS, but I’m not on that council anymore.
On the left side of the building is a shady porch. Even in the summer, I think you would be cool here. The original Schnebly Hotel included 10 rooms, a rock chimney, and a shake roof. Tents and a bunkhouse outside housed some of the guests. The Schneblys sold their bunkhouse hotel, post office, and store in 1908, and it burned down in 1918.
Another beautiful suite is the Morris House. Of course, since that is my maiden name, I would love to stay there, but it is being remodeled. Phil Morris got the contract to build the new Abrigados Resort that opened in 1986. He has now been in business over 45 years with an unparalleled reputation as a builder.
Miniature Golf Course Vince and I haven’t played yet, but we had to check out each of the 18 holes. We heard the gentle waterfall at hole 11. However beautiful it is, par 3 was not a fair number to set for par. Can you see that narrow bridge in the center? Hmmm Trust me, take extra golf balls. There’s real water in the stream underneath it.
One piece of advice I have for you is not to get discouraged and lose your confidence because of hole 11 like I did the first time I played with my friend Jean.
Basketball, Tennis & Pickleball Courts For more activity, you can enjoy tennis, basketball, or pickleball. I hate to admit it, but I thought the holes in the shade screens were windows. I wondered why they were so high and so low. Vince explained patiently that they are to keep the cloth in place when it’s windy. DUH!
Pathways Along Oak Creek
We started down one path, but it ran out. Huge rocks line the smooth walking path.
The shallow creek meanders quietly right now, but at some point, the water has eroded the soil around the roots.
Seating Areas along Oak Creek
If you wanted you could play checkers or chess outside. You could choose between walking, chess or checkers, or sitting. Nobody played at 9:00. Usually, the pieces are sitting upright in their assigned spots. Someone enjoyed playing – until they didn’t, or the wind came up last night.
Bocce Ball Court Vince lost to me at this Italian game. We only played once. Hmmm. Maybe it did not challenge him enough.
Too many options for Vince. He led the way.
The Labyrinth You start at one end and follow the yellow brick road. Just when you think you’ve reached the Wizard of Oz, the blocks take a sharp turn and turns in the opposite direction.
The Bird Sanctuary The birds were shy this morning. Maybe Vince and I did not emit bird-loving vibes. We saw a crow fly in front of our noses on the road back to the suite. But by then my camera was sheathed in my pocket, and it was time for lunch. So birds, we’ll catch you later.
The Zen Garden Vince and I have too much Type A personality to sit down and zen in the garden.
“We need a rake. I’ll be they have a rake. Next time we’ll get a rake. Jason would spend hours here. Let’s go now.”
And as quickly as we walked in and I sat down to zen, we left.
Spoke N Wheel Restaurant Walking past the Morris House and the tennis courts we stopped to take pictures of the Spoke N Wheel Restaurant.
The group of women I went to Sedona with last fall all enjoyed this restaurant. Vince and I booked a reservation for Easter dinner just to make sure.
Last year Darlene and I decided we did not want to pay the price. Instead, we spent five dollars less apiece and had a lousy meal from the store, most of which we threw away. Vince and I did not make that mistake.
New Friends On the way to Schnebly pond from the Office we ran into friends we met at the pool the night before, Dave and Karen. We invited them to join us for brunch. Our one-hour luncheon turned into two and a half hours as we got better acquainted with this couple previously from Pennsylvania, but now from Arizona.
Heated Pool and Jacuzzi No resort is complete without a pool, so as we headed back over to the place we met our new friends the night before in the jacuzzi.
Vince stays out of the sun, although he would rather lie next to the pool all day in weather like Sedona this week. He had to be content to look over the pools from the patio above.
Tomorrow I’ll seek out the spa again. It relaxed me, and you never know what new friend you will meet next.
Schnebly Pond This pond was harder to find than we expected. Named after Sedona’s first family, it is buried between some of the units. After looking at the map, we figured it out.
At first, I thought ducks had found a nice shallow pond. Closer inspection taught me otherwise.
Next to Tlaquepaque Sedona’s Art and Shopping Destination
Though separated by a concrete overflow, Tlaquepaque seems like part of the Abrigados dream resort. Drawn by a beautiful rendition of “Sounds of Silence,” we crossed the pedestrian path to the mall. Michael Kollwitz recorded one of his CDs under the banyan tree in LaHina on Maui.
Vince loves to shop. OK, honestly, I do too on occasion. We had fun strolling through the cobblestone and brick roads ducking in and out of specialty shops.
After living in rodeo country for sixteen years, I found my first cowgirl hat in Arizona at Bennali’s.
While we picked from passion fruit, blueberry, pomegranate, cranberry, strawberry, apple and many other fruity kinds of vinegar, General Manager, Allison Wilson briefly explained the history of the Voss Fass Company.
All told, our resort walk lasted about an hour and a half or so trying out some of the fun things to do at Los Abrigados.
All day long, my husband who hates to leave home said, “I love it here.”
What’s not to love? This is a Diamond Resort membership resort, but you do not have to belong to stay here. You can book through Expedia or other online sites. If you come to Sedona, it’s the most beautiful of all the wonderful places we have stayed.
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Hi, I’m Marsha. In September my travel plans included beautiful, forested Delaware. If you want an easy walk that families can enjoy because ANYONE can do it, come to Winterthur Gardens in DE. Here I am sitting resting on the edge of my seat at the edge of the Enchanted Woods at Winterthur Gardens near Hockessin, DE.
More than one of the du Pont boys who owned DuPont Chemical Company, where my mother’s cousin Hal worked, loved gardens. We were so glad he did as we meandered the broad path around the gardens for about three hours. Yes, we were lost at times. This map did not help. 🙂
“Winterthur’s 1,000 acres encompass rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. Founder Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) developed an appreciation of nature as a boy who served as the basis for his life’s work in the garden.”
Off the edge of the pathway at a middle point in the 1,000 acres of Winterthur was an Enchanted Woods.
Be Brave! Travel On!
Come on chickens. We crossed the troll bridge into the Enchanted Woods. First, let me introduce you to Hal. As some of you already know he’s 91. In his day he engineered hard plastics in car engines. Although now he is at the losing edge of blindness, he walked three hours guiding me through the gardens at Winterthur. (The blind leading the blind at times)
As we entered the Woods Hal could not resist the first hands-on activity for us kids.
I felt like a kid here. At one edge was a fairy ring. Hal told me not to get too close. But, Hal is blind. What does he know, right? Who can resist advice like that?
I was clearly standing on the edge. What would you do with a sign like that? You can’t read it either, can you? hahaha
Soon I was covered in a mist that spread through the gardens. Everyone passing by knew I had disobeyed the sign. I hoped these were good fairies.
Here are a few more pictures of the fairy ring. These giant concrete mushrooms trapped several gleeful young children. We could hear laughter and see mist filtering through the trees as we walked around.
Lucky for me I run fast! 🙂 That’s it for now.
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