Wellness Wed: Motorcycle, open road and 2 fresh-air junkies

As Minnesotans prepare for the State Fair start on Thursday, we reach a symbolic end of summer. I spent some time reading blogs from 2017, and enjoying the past 2 years of my writing journey. So I edited a favorite post from December 2017 for Wellness Wednesday. If you’re reading this – head outside! Enjoy your summer! Stop reading! 🙂

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In July of 2017 my husband (then fiance) and I took a trip around Lake Superior, starting on the Minnesota side from the Twin Cities and running clockwise. It was a wonderful journey, made precious by the fact that we had never made that trip before, and the fact that my husband had taken care of 95% of the planning beforehand.

cycle-with-camper-in-schroeder.jpg
Camping trailer, VTX, and our bear canister.

He even re-furbished a motorcycle camping trailer that we were able to use for 6 out of the 10 nights we were away from home. It would have been 8 nights but we opted to upgrade to a hotel on two of the nights when the campgrounds seemed to soggy for us as 40-somethings who enjoy comfortable beds. With hubby doing 100% of the driving, it was important for him to get adequate rest. See how good I am at justifying my desire for comfort? 😉

We wanted to explore one of the wonderful treasures of our Midwest home: Lake Superior. We love Canada and have traveled many times to Thunder Bay and that area. The first time we traveled there was just after we had gotten engaged, and we stayed in the McVicar Manor B&B. I am sad to see when I look online that this may have closed. I know Dorothy and Tom, the owners at the time, were planning to retire.

McVicar Manor
McVicar Manor B&B

Perhaps it is a seasonal closing, as I know they do spend some months of the year traveling.

In any case, hubby found many great camp sites where we could stay all around the lake, as well as a B&B in Sault Ste Marie and some other hotels where we spontaneously stayed when we encountered rain a couple of days in July.

At the start we arrived in Canada during their national holiday, just before the U.S. Independence Day holiday. It was Canada Day, eh! And we found an abundance of people camping, with Canadian flags on display at campsites. The provincial park system in Canada is amazing, and has generally more secluded sites than the typical American camp groud.

My favorites were Sleeping Giant Park and Lake Superior Provincial Park. Hubby took this wonderful photo from Agawa Bay in Superior Park, where we camped right along the shoreline. It was gorgeous, and quite warm that evening. But we started a camp fire anyway, because it is our tradition.

Agawa Bay - Superior
Original photo taken by husband of mexi-minnesotana in 2017. Use with attribution only.

The views from the Canada side were rather spectacular and hubby has hours of unedited video from his Go-Pro which attached like an antenna to his helmet. I kept teasing him about looking like a Martian with that darn thing stuck to the helmet.

Awww, but this is why I keep reading that spending money on experiences rather than things proves to be the most satisfying. There is the excitement and anticipation of the event, then the event itself and then recalling fond memories of the event.

Where are you planning your next vacation? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

O Canada
O Canada! Another view from a similar vantage point, taken by mexi-minnesotana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workplace Wellness on holiday

This week is our Independence Day holiday. I’ll be taking a long weekend up north to celebrate with family and take a long weekend break. So I have decided to take a holiday on writing here as well. My advice to you is to do the same.

Flag at Stone Arch bridge
Phone taken at the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis, MN on July 4, 2018

If you are able to take a break, or take a vacation this summer, make the most of it. Whether you get some extra rest, enjoy some quality time with people you love or perhaps get out to see some fireworks, appreciate these fine summer days. Have a safe and happy weekend!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Windows on the world

Arty colorful kitchen
Kitchen of the Airbnb with Yoshi and Yello

Yesterday was a long travel day. Longer than I expected. By the time we arrived at our final Airbnb we had been “in motion” for 8.5 hours. This included a ride to the train Doune station, a train ride to Edinburgh, a tram ride to the airport, some time eating lunch there, a short flight to London Luton, a train ride to the tube station. A couple tube transfers later, we finally made it to Canary Wharf, up three sets of stairs to a lovely and artistically decorated renovated warehouse flat here.

attract fun
mantra on the mantel of this Airbnb

Having been out & about among people for so long (and in such confined quarters on the tube) with people, I was feeling ready to shut out the world, not visit with our hosts. Hopefully they understood. My introvert self wanted to retreat, spend time alone or just with my husband. On day 13 of this vacation, I now feel relieved we will be going home tomorrow. I miss my own bed, our quiet townhome, our kitties who will no doubt be a bit miffed with us for being gone for 2 weeks.

every-moment.jpg
This applies to our trip.

I enjoy doing the Airbnb experience because it gives you a window on people’s lives in another part of the world. While I am not wild about the times we have had to share a bathroom (about half of the lodgings on this trip), I still think the experience beats staying in a standard, traditional hotel. You must read the descriptions carefully and the reviews to make sure a place fits your needs.

On the eve of returning home, sitting in this lovely apartment and enjoying some solitude, I would still do the trip this way. I may be a little more selective on locations, and try to stay at least 2 days (sometimes 3) in each, instead of the few where we only had one night en route. Given the limitations of not driving here, I would say I did fairly well.

I may have a little “armchair” sociologist in me, getting this window on another person’s life and home, getting fuel for my future stories and books I will write. And part of me enjoys the adventure of not knowing exactly what we will find each time. Not only do you save some money off the expense of regular hotels, but you also gain the benefit of receiving an inside look at some of the real ways people live.

I am taking home with me a treasure trove of new experiences, ideas, inspirations and some lessons as well. How grateful I am for all of it.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Unsung art
Unhung art from the living room of the final Airbnb in Canary Wharf.

 

 

 

 

 

Far from the madding crowd

Landscape at Milton
Landscape from a nearby hill. 16 Sept 2018

Yesterday we arrived at the Milton of Cambus Farmhouse Airbnb (in Doune, Scotland) that I had booked on Saturday when I decided that another two days of train trips to get back to London from Edinburgh was too much.

As we arrived, I realized it was the best decision I had made for this trip. Feeling a bit weary of train travel, these two introverts on the road on day 11 were feeling in need of open space, field of sheep and cows, fresh air and time away from crowds. Here at the farmhouse we received those wishes.

Cows at Milton
Cows, rather curious about us. 16 Sept 2018

Our hosts, Rosemary and David, have been so kind. Knowing that we lacked transportation, they picked us up at the airport and even offered a lovely dinner for a small fee, even though they do not usually provide that. We are the first guests that have arrived without a car, and they seemed so willing to make us feel at home.

My only regret is that we do not have longer to stay here. They are travel writers, and they publish a number of Simple Guides and Safari Maps covering places here in Scotland as well as East Africa. Their books on the Maasai Mara region and Kenya are beautifully illustrated and get me thinking about traveling there, even though this area was not high on my list before.

We told them last night how this experience of staying with them is “breaking the curve” on every Airbnb (and regular B&B) experience we have had so far. David explained that they have often had such good treatment while traveling, and they like to provide what they would want to their guests, as much as possible. What a lovely way to look at hosting.

Sheep at Milton
I tried to get closer to the sheep, but they were not fond of strangers, so they ran in the other direction when I approached.

During this trip we have had 6 other Airbnb hosts, and they varied widely in the quality of what they were able to offer. Some were limited by the space and neighborhoods they had, so that was not within the control of the hosts. Some were highly interactive and others more withdrawn and absent.

As introverts, we do not need or want constant conversation with our hosts or other guests at the Airbnb. But I think it is important to feel welcome, or at least feel as though we are not an imposition on the host. Learning some history about an area or receiving suggestions about local activities is a precious part of hosting. Feeling welcome and cared for is such a great gift.

We fly back to London today for our final Airbnb in Canary Wharf before returning home this Wednesday. I am so grateful for this time and for our journey together on this trip. I am sure to process it and write more in the coming weeks. For now, I am just grateful we have had time away to rest and relax. I am starting to miss my cats and my own bed.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Sheep on hill
It is idyllic countryside, here in Doune, Scotland. I will miss it when we leave. 

Travel notes to self

Hello Friends,

My usual Saturday share is on holiday as I am traveling on my honeymoon/1-year anniversary trip with my husband until the 19th. As I work out final travel details for this trip, I thought I would reflect a bit on the best and hardest parts of this trip so far, and what I am “filing away” for future reference.

We had a lovely visit to Loch Lormond, Glencoe, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness yesterday. I definitely recommend a visit to the Scottish Highlands if you travel here – the beauty of the landscape is worth it. We used Timberbush Tours, because I found a brochure in the train station in Glasgow that offered some options we could consider. Definitely worth trying to book a few days in advance or a couple weeks, since a couple of the tours we considered were already full for just one day in advance.

It was definitely a satisfying day though quite long, starting at 7:45 a.m. to meet the bus and not returning to the city center until 7:30 p.m. at night. But the drive was worth it. My hubby got some excellent photos and I will be sure to share them in future posts.

Urquhart Castle
Castle Urquhart, taken September 14, 2018.  Use only with attribution to mexi-minnesotana, please.

This morning I woke up thinking about how to modify our trip to perhaps cut one long(er) train trip out and replace it with a short flight. We have one night in Edinburgh, one night in Manchester and two nights in London reserved via AirBnB for the final days of our trip. I realize that having only one night in a place versus two can feel too rushed on a trip like this.

In our first 6 nights here, we had two nights in each location, and that felt like a good pace, time to settle in and also time to explore. Then we only had one night in Liverpool, and I could have used two. Arriving in Glassgow I felt very tired and trip weary.

I am researching a change to two nights in Edinburgh, and two nights in London, canceling the visit to Manchester and flying directly from Edinburgh to London, making it a shorter trip back. I am considering that idea, though it looks like our Edinburgh host does not have a second day available so we would still have to find a 2nd night there.

What I am learning is that my exuberance in seeing so many places needs to be balanced with our need for rest and relaxation on a trip. I think in the future, I will try to book 2-3 nights in each place and be more selective about the number of locations we visit. It is so hard to choose! I want to see everything and go everywhere!

But in the end, I do not want to arrive home exhausted, feeling like I need a rest to “recover” from my vacation. So I will make mindful choices after this trip experience and with our needs and desires in mind.

Cheers & happy weekend, all.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com