Small Ship Cruising VS. Large Ship Cruising

Cruise Ship in British Columbia with watermark 300x180 Small Ship Cruising VS. Large Ship CruisingWe were avid large ship cruisers. We loved every single thing about an ocean cruise. The magnificent and abundant choices for dining. The fact that you only have to unpack once and your comfy accommodations travel right along with you. Plenty of time to relax, yet time to stay busy, or time to make whatever choice you want that makes you happy. We loved simply hanging out on our cabin verandah just watching the water slip by. Seriously. We loved every single thing about the experience.

So when we were offered an opportunity to take a small ship cruise, we were naturally a little hesitant. Wouldn’t the ship be uncomfortably small so we wouldn’t have any privacy? Would we have any choices about what we ate? Would we have any choices about things to do?

We are now avid small ship cruisers. Let me tell you why.

1. The Size of the Ship

One of the things we were the most worried about – that the ship would be small – ended up being one of the things we loved most about our cruises.  Our first small ship cruise was on the Safari Quest, a luxurious and comfortable yacht owned by Un-Cruise Adventures which heads to Alaska, the Snake and Columbia Rivers in Oregon, and Coastal Washington and British Columbia. This cozy yacht became our home away from home and we found it amazing that, with a small ship, you can actually get right up close to the action – which, on our cruise, meant hanging out for a couple of hours to observe a pod of Orcas and slipping into small and quiet inlets with scenic waterfalls. We spent our time doing everything from watching the astonishing scenery slip by the windows to kayaking in a still cove where we were the only ship around. We also stepped right off the ship onto shore – no waiting in long lines to get off the ship, just step out and you are there!

Read the rest of this article on Travel Generation HERE.

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How to Create a List in Twitter

working on computer2 How to Create a List in TwitterOk, this is another instance of when I wasted a great deal of time before I figured out a much easier way to do something technologically related and decided why should you waste that much time as well?

You’re welcome.

When I travel, I tweet. That sounds like it should be a bumper sticker but, in reality, during travel I do tweet a lot about what we are doing, where we are going, where we are staying/eating/having an experience. It’s fun and it’s nice for the companies I am working with as they get a little social media exposure.

The problem came about when I was working with a number of different companies during a trip which is pretty much always. Unless I had followed them all in a neat row on Twitter right before we left on the trip which happened never, I had to search for each one as I posted a tweet. This was not too much of a problem if they had chosen a perfectly logical twitter name but, because of a variety of reasons they may have chosen one that is completely illogical so that it would not automatically pop up when I starting typing their @username on my phone. In that case, I could either scroll through Twitter looking for them or go back to their web page, click on the Twitter icon and locate the name. This happened literally dozens of times before I decided there must be a better way. Couldn’t I organize them somehow? Like in some sort of…list?

Well, of course you can.

As I found out when I searched and found this web site. Which tells you – amazing! – how to create a list in Twitter. So, now before I leave on a trip, I create a list of every single company I am working with so I can easily find them in that list. You can probably just use the web site but here’s a little more detailed information about how I did it.

1. First you have to create a list by clicking on that little gear gizmo at the top of your Twitter page. I’m just going to admit that I spent an embarrassingly long amount of time searching for that gear gizmo before I did a search when they said to click on the gear because I had no idea what they were talking about.

My profile gear 1024x576 How to Create a List in Twitter

The gear icon. Who knew?

 

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Photo Friday: Flowers on Nantucket Island, MA

The meticulous gardens on Nantucket Island were truly a joy to see. Tom got this shot of one of them.

Flowers on Nantucket Island MA Photo Friday: Flowers on Nantucket Island, MA

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The Star City of the South – Beautiful Roanoke, Virginia

Roanoke StarDSC 9474 2012 06 03 at 08 14 31 300x201 The Star City of the South   Beautiful Roanoke, VirginiaThe best kind of car trips are those that involve a scenic drive somewhere instead of brain-numbing miles of Interstate highway. That is precisely why a car trip to Roanoke, Virginia is a wonderful choice. The gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding this lovely, scenic mountain town make the drive to Roanoke just as pleasant as the stay. Plan your drive to include the Blue Ridge Parkway, which links two national parks – the Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains – and you can relax and actually enjoy your trip.

You will have a number of choices of places to stay in Roanoke, but we found the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center to be the perfect place for seeing the area. When our room was just a little too close to the ice machine and we were concerned about hearing the sounds of dropping ice cubes at all hours, the staff immediately moved us to a much nicer room – truly the mark of an excellent hotel. They also offer free parking (a real plus; we just paid $23 a day to park at another hotel), free wifi, free Starbucks coffee in the rooms, a very nice complimentary breakfast, and very, very comfortable beds. The hotel is also located just a few minutes drive from downtown Roanoke and has a free shuttle service to the nearby airport.

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How to Dress for Your Next Flight

girl with suitcase How to Dress for Your Next FlightI settled into the fairly comfortable seat in the airport, resigned to the fact that I had three hours to kill until my flight. Pulling a book out of my tote bag, I paused for a moment to watch the people passing by, always an entertaining way to spend some time in an airport or any location where folks who have no idea how to shop/dress congregate.

Which is pretty much everywhere today. And once again I was astonished at the amazing assortment of outfits that women had chosen to wear when traveling.

Wait. What? Cut off jean shorts so indescribably short that her butt cheeks were flashing as she walked by. Flash, flash, flash, OMG. High strappy sandals so ridiculously inappropriate and obviously uncomfortable that the woman wearing them was actually wincing as she walked. So many inappropriately dressed women walked by that I took out my phone and made some notes about what you actually should wear to travel.

So, here you go. Next time you plan what to wear for that flight, check out these suggestions.

1. Shorts. Nothing wrong with shorts when you travel; in fact, if you are traveling from one warm location to another, it makes sense although your legs may be a little chilly if the air conditioning is high. But there are shorts and there are shorts. Pack those frayed cut off blue jeans shorts away in your suitcase to wear at the beach and instead wear a classy pair of slightly longer shorts that fit well. I’m a fan of the new high-waisted, loose leg shorts that are popular this summer but any sort of nice, city shorts will do.

 

c600x501 How to Dress for Your Next Flight

 

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Photo Friday: Front Door on a mansion on Nantucket Island, MA

The mansions we saw all over New England were truly amazing. Tom got this shot of a front door when we visited Nantucket Island.

Doorway on a mansion on Nantucket Island MA Photo Friday: Front Door on a mansion on Nantucket Island, MA

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Rocky Gap Casino Resort

home lake1 1024x228 Rocky Gap Casino Resort

Rocky Gap Casino Resort. Photo courtesy of the resort.

You have probably heard that line about the three most important things to consider when choosing real estate are location, location, and wait for it location.

Rocky Gap Casino Resort is a prime example of a lovely resort offering a host of amenities which also happens to be in one of most beautiful locations we have ever visited. Forget those casinos in Las Vegas which, at best, overlook a luxurious pool – this resort overlooks 3,000 acres of the gorgeous Allegheny mountains and the clear and beautiful, 243 acre Lake Habeeb because it is perched right beside Rocky Gap State Park. How many of those Vegas resorts can also boast miles of hiking trails, swimming beaches, access to kayaking and canoeing a lake, and mountain views?

Chair overlooking lake. Rocky Gap Casino Resort

Location is everything at this resort.

Honestly, when we were searching for resorts to visit on our way to and from New England in July, we were a little taken aback to discover a casino resort in the middle of Maryland. Hidden away near the historic town of Cumberland, Maryland, the resort expanded in May, 2013 to include an expansive casino with 550 slot machines, 10 table games, a casino bar, and live Texas Hold’em poker with both Limit and No Limit stakes. In 2014, the resort also spent money to renovate the hotel rooms, lobby, restaurants, and the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. They also recently opened a new conference and event center featuring an executive boardroom, breakout meeting rooms, business center and flexible-use meeting space and they also opened a comedy club on the lower level.

We really did not know what to expect when we pulled up to the entrance. We have been to Vegas so would this be an uber-glitzy, sorta tacky casino hotel?

Uh. No.

Just the opposite, in fact.

front 20air 209041 300 1024x682 Rocky Gap Casino Resort

Aerial view of Rocky Gap Casino Resort. Photo courtesy of the resort.

 

Entrance Rocky Gap Casino Resort

Come on in!

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Best Kept Secret in Florida – Amelia Island

Lobby Staircase with watermark 300x224 Best Kept Secret in Florida   Amelia Island

Lobby of the Hampton Inn and Suites.

Before we traveled to lovely and historic Amelia Island on the Atlantic coast of Florida, I had never even heard of it. Amelia Island is one of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands that reaches along the east coast of the United States all the way from South Carolina to Florida. It’s only about 13 miles long and 4 miles wide but it’s such a charming place full of beautiful Victorian mansions, you are going to love it.

It’s the only location in the United States to have proudly flown eight different flags and, of course, it has the requisite pirate history of most barrier islands. This place comes by that claim quite rightly as the island is located just a short sail from Savannah so it was quite easy to get rid of all those contraband goods in the big city.

There is no long bridge or causeway to get to Amelia Island; you are just driving along and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of the pretty little historic downtown area of Fernandina Beach, complete with shops and restaurants, many of which look like they have been there for a hundred years. And some of them have. Considering how small and walkable the downtown area is, they have managed to cram a large number of fabulous places to get your shopping fix. We spent a couple of afternoons browsing through the shops and can recommend Twisted Sisters, a fabulous little shop with clothes, décor, gifts and great jewelry. We bought bags full of extremely reasonably priced jewelry, especially some with an ocean theme which we love.

Read the rest of this article on Travel Generation HERE.

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Lovely Turf Valley

Maryland Lovely Turf ValleyHosted Accommodations

 

 

We didn’t really know what to expect from Maryland.

Our route to Rhode Island and our Islands of New England cruise with Blount Small Ship Adventures went through Maryland and, because we like to travel leisurely when we are on car trips and because like to stop at lovely, interesting, local hotels and resorts, we decided to stop at Turf Valley.

We are so glad we did.

Because it made us realize that Maryland is perfectly wonderful.

Turf Valley is owned and run by the Mangione family – literally the entire family. During our visit, the Nick Mangione Italian Classic golf tournament was being held as the resort has two of the most beautiful golf courses in Maryland and we were introduced to several generations of the Mangione family, from the youngest to the oldest who work in everything from the kitchen to public relations for the resort.

Turf Valley was originally a thoroughbred horse farm and we really felt at home since the area strongly resembles the blue grass country of our home in Lexington, Kentucky. The Mangione family purchased Turf Valley in 1978 when it was just a quiet golf country club and proceeded to expand it into the luxury resort it has become. Spread out over 1,000 acres, the resort features two championship 18 hole golf courses, two swimming pools, three tennis courts, a fabulous spa, and more than 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space. It’s a very popular spot for all kinds of events of all sizes, including weddings.

The resort is very close to both Baltimore and Washington, D.C.(in fact, the area is technically considered part of the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan area) and we were really tempted to take a day at one of these locations but we just too busy at Turf Valley and nearby, charming Ellicott City.

When we pulled into Turf Valley, we were immediately impressed. A pond with two lovely swans graces the entrance and provides the perfect introduction to this idyllic location.

Turf Valley Lovely Turf Valley

Our first view of Turf Valley.

DSC 3193 2014 07 16 at 10 05 49 Lovely Turf Valley

Swans coming to greet us.

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The Ranch at Rock Creek: Philipsburg, Montana

imagesLCS5FTOL The Ranch at Rock Creek: Philipsburg, Montana

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We had never traveled out West until we spent a couple of weeks exploring the astonishingly beautiful state of Arizona recently. This part of the country could not possibly be more different from our home state of Kentucky but we loved everything about it and determined that we must visit the other Western states, in particular the big sky country of Montana.

Combine our love of the outdoors and an appreciation for sublime luxury accommodations and we can’t imagine staying anywhere else when we plan that Montana trip but the Ranch at Rock Creek, which received the Forbes 5-star Travel Guide Award. Kate Bosworth even had her wedding here! We have stayed in numerous luxury resorts but few have been all-inclusive and few have had the amazing landscapes offered at this all-inclusive luxury ranch resort in Philipsburg, Montana. Covering more than 6,600 acres of rolling ranch land, high ridges, and pristine alpine lakes, the ranch is located at the base of the John Long Mountains and includes four miles along lovely Rock Creek. The ranch also borders the Deer Lodge National Forest which provides some of the most amazing views.

All rates at the ranch include a full breakfast, lunch and dinner along with all wines and drinks from the ranch wine list during meals or in the Silver Dollar Saloon. These are not your average meals as Executive Chef Josh Drage creates world-class but regionally inspired cuisine which features Montana-raised beef, lamb, chicken, and dairy products as well as locally sourced produce.

Although I love the outdoors and hiking is one of my favorite activities, I am just going to admit that I am not a fan of camping. My idea of roughing it is a hotel without room service, but I am intrigued by the whole idea of

glamping at rock creek 300x180 The Ranch at Rock Creek: Philipsburg, Montana

What a fabulous place to stay!

“glamping” – basically, glamour camping. I am all about the glamour so the idea of staying in one of the luxury canvas cabins at the Ranch at Rock Creek sounds amazing. They were one of the first locations to come up with the “glamping” idea and each of the canvas cabins has a private bath, comfortable bed with luxurious bedding, a gas fireplace, screened-in porch and a deck facing Rock Creek. This is my idea of roughing it!

If you want even more luxurious accommodations, you can choose one of the beautiful log homes or even a guest room in the Granite Lodge, where the dining room, bar, spa, and an outdoor pool with a patio and jacuzzi are located.

Spending time in the fresh air is encouraged at the ranch and I was pleased to see that they provide every guest with a mountain bike upon arrival. But mountain biking is not the only option for activities at this truly unique location. Horseback riding, fly-fishing in Montana’s world famous creeks, hiking, archery, stagecoach rides, and even the Little Grizzlies Kids Club for kids ages 4 – 12 to learn all about the area.

Grayling Canvas Cabin 300x180 The Ranch at Rock Creek: Philipsburg, Montana

“Glamping” – how fabulous is that?

Don’t think this is a one-season location because in the winter, there are even more activities and the ranch turns into a winter wonderland. Skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating, sleigh rides – all in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

And once you have participated in some of the extensive activities offered at the ranch, it’s time for some quiet relaxation at the Granite Spa. As far as I am concerned, it’s not a true luxury destination without a complete spa and the Ranch at Rock Creek does not disappoint.

Massages, body treatments, facials, and nail care along with a cedar sauna are all available to guests of the ranch.

I can’t imagine a more perfect destination to expand our knowledge of the western part of the United States. An all-inclusive luxury ranch which offers every single activity you can possibly imagine, along with astonishingly beautiful country, fabulous food and an amazing spa?

I’m making my plans to visit at this very moment.

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