Snowbirding

Winter getaway ideas


Biplane Ride!

While camping on Carlsbad Beach in California, I noticed an ad for a ride in a biplane.  Barnstormers! Wilbur and Orville!  Snoopy and Red Baron!  Two for the price of one! Janene revved high spirits as we opened our pickup doors, “You look like you came from Colorado!” Enthusiasm flowed as she briefed us, checking for hazards: “Are you wearing earrings, Ann? Tuck your hood in, so it won’t pull. I have a vest if you’re cold.” I especially appreciated these efforts because I was so nervous about getting airsick, I’d taken two pills, and they were making me slow […]


Tenerife Lizards

Though Tenerife’s giant lizards are now extinct, many other types can still be found. Our tour guide has a gecko that patrols the ceilings for mosquitos at night then naps in the warm cubby behind a television set through the day.  In Colorado we once had a lizard quietly volunteer to clean out a housefly infestation in our sunroom. He did a fine job then disappeared. A Tenerife blog post painted a darker picture of living with lizards.  The poor little guys tended to lurk in dangerous places like door and window frames or underfoot and cause serious guilt issues.  […]


Treasure Trees

Tenerife Island, one of Spain’s Canaries, gets almost no rain. Though the Canaries lie along the African Sahara coast, Tenerife enjoys wondrous pine forests and a generous underground reservoir. That’s because wind and water currents bring dense clouds, and the pine trees help themselves. Their needles are so adept at sucking in moisture, excess water drizzles out through their roots—enough to support cities, crop lands, even passing cruise ships. These pine trees are also exceptional in that their wood is dark and strong. Fortunately, Tenerife is blessed with exceptional wisdom as well as trees. The first agenda item for so […]


Dogs, Canaries, Islands, and Confusion

No, the Canary Islands were not named for canaries. Canaries were named for the islands. That seems to be certain. Many claim that Europeans visiting the islands were surprised to see large dogs on Gran Canary so named it “big dog island” in Latin. Others say the name came from a tribe of people with a similar name or maybe a tribe that worshiped dogs. Whatever.  A Canary Island dog surprised me as well, though it wasn’t particularly big.  I just never saw one that looked quite like that.


How Safe is Egypt?

I gulped at Mom’s suggested trip to Egypt.  The Middle East?  But many reputable companies were offering tours.  Also, the U.S. travel advisory site noted just a couple areas to avoid, which naturally weren’t on the tours.  Obviously, Egypt and the tour companies are highly motivated to protect us golden geese.  They’d be crazy to encourage visitors if they didn’t believe they could keep us safe.  And who would know better than they whether the situation was safe? “Safe” being a relative term, of course. So how safe was Egypt?  I was surprised at how welcoming the people were.  people […]


Tipping Egyptian Style

The tour company promised to take care of tips for every service they arranged other than the main tour guide.  That sounded wonderful.  No stress over who to tip how much.  …If only. Almost every restroom we used featured someone handing out toilet paper at the door.  The five pounds they expected in return was next-to-nothing, but a pain to keep handy.  Qualms crept in as well.  Shouldn’t the attendant who put herself out to be pleasant and keep the room nice, get more?   (Note:  Even when the five pounds was considered a charge rather than a tip, these generous souls allowed relief to folks lacking fives.) “It’s a tipping culture,” […]


Venturing the Souq

  I was amazed to find that the in-your-face vendors of the Egyptian souq calmed down and become hospitable when I stopped and told them what I wanted.  “Sit down.  Would you like something to drink?  Coke, tea, anything you like.” The first shop tender didn’t have a necklace Mom wanted, so he took us across the street to his brother.  The brother sat us down and brought choice after choice, much  appreciated since our tour’s pace was taking it’s toll.  Mom finally settled on two pendants and chains.  I bargained as best I could, and Mom helped by saying, “maybe we should go” a couple times […]


Egyptian Market Mania

Prices are enticing in Egypt, especially since their pound devalued, doubling the power of the U.S. dollar to nearly 18 pounds per dollar.  I looked forward to scoring bunches of bargain Christmas gifts when we visited the souq.  My chance came at last in Luxor, and I ventured out from under our guide’s protective wing for an hour. It was seriously intimidating.  Vendors swarm the path and shout “shirts, scarves, camels, no hassle, just browsing, have a look, everything free, where you from?”  I can not shop with all that going on.  I walked several blocks to the end of the street without daring to stop to look at anything.  On the way back I saw a dress that […]


Tomb Raiders

  I’m about to spill some nefarious doings, so will offer no details that might finger a perp.  When the Egyptian government needs money, they sell exclusive viewings of exquisite tombs.  I was one of only three people in our tour group willing to shell out for this privilege.  The pricey entry fee buys just 10-minutes inside, but strings were pulled to allow us more time.  When another group arrived for a viewing, they were encouraged to visit nearby tombs until the tomb was not “full.” Every inch of every wall and ceiling was decorated, all of it inset into […]