Beach House Bliss – A Girlfriend Getaway in Gulf Shores, Alabama

beach house Beach House Bliss   A Girlfriend Getaway in Gulf Shores, AlabamaMany people, when planning a getaway to the pristine white sands of the beaches bordering the Gulf of Mexico, automatically make their travel plans for Florida. But look over on that map of the United States and you will see that the Gulf runs all the way up into several other states, including Alabama. Many of the Gulf shore beaches in Alabama are undiscovered paradises with far less tourists but plenty of equally gorgeous sand and water, great seafood, interesting activities, and fabulous places to stay.

One of our favorite beach towns in this area is Gulf Shores. Located on a narrow peninsula which juts out into the Gulf of Mexico, this quiet and lovely location is the ideal place for a girlfriends getaway. There are plenty of hotels and beach rentals in the Gulf Shores area but drive just a little further out the peninsula and you will find an even quieter and unspoiled area called Fort Morgan, close to the delights of Gulf Shores but away from the traffic and noise.

Read the rest of this article on HERE.

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Photo Friday: Pond with Lily Pads on Block Island

Tom got this shot of a lovely pond on Block Island, Rhode Island on our Blount cruise in New England.

Pond with lily pads and homes on Block Island RI Photo Friday: Pond with Lily Pads on Block Island

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New England Girlfriends Getaway

sailboat New England Girlfriends GetawayI stepped aboard Blount Small Adventures Grande Caribe cruise ship and heaved a sigh of relief and pleasure. There is nothing quite like cruising for a relaxing girlfriends getaway – no unpacking, no meal planning, no making your own bed, no worries! This particular cruise was visiting several islands in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in July which could possibly be the best time to visit this area on a cruise ship as it is high season and finding a hotel room in all the many locations we would visit could be difficult.

The Grande Caribe is not a large cruise ship; with space for about 80 passengers in comfortable staterooms just small enough to be homey. The lounge area is furnished with plenty of upholstered furniture and the adjoining bar area includes space for the liquor and wine bottles that Blount encourages you to bring aboard and soda dispensers where you are welcome to fill a glass with ice and a drink whenever you want. Not only do they encourage you to bring aboard your own liquor and wine, they even provide snacks and mixers to accompany them and two very nice cocktail parties during the week long cruise with scrumptious hot appetizers.

Read the rest of this article on HERE.

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Bike Riding is Not Just for Kids!

girl on bike Bike Riding is Not Just for Kids!I absolutely loathe spinning class. I really, really wanted to like it. Because how difficult could it be to ride a stationary bike in place?

 You know what? It is extremely difficult. For one thing, the bike seats are incredibly, indescribably, immeasurably hard. So hard that no matter what you do, no matter how thick a bike seat cover you buy, no matter how many times you stand up on the pedals to relieve your aching butt, you are still in pain.

I couldn’t understand why this was not more fun. It’s bike riding, right? Well, it’s just not exactly like regular bike riding. It’s a lot less fun.

 So when the lovely and generous folks at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach in Florida offered me and my sister-in-law bikes to ride during our girlfriends getaway last year, I hesitated. Wasn’t this going to be spinning class all over again? Painful and no fun. Turns out this was the furthest thing from the truth.

Read the rest of this article on Travelhoppers HERE.

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Photo Friday: Lake Habeeb in Maryland

Tom is the photographer; I’m the writer. But occasionally I get a photo that I really like. This is a view of Lake Habeeb in Maryland at the Rocky Gap Casino Resort.

Lake Habeen at Rocky Gap Resort Casino Photo Friday: Lake Habeeb in Maryland

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A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

New England A Weekend in Newport, Rhode IslandDid you know Newport, Rhode Island is on an actual island?

Yeah. We had no idea either.

Our first clue was when it was included in our Islands of New England cruise with Blount Small Ship Adventures. We honestly had a pretty vague idea about what all of New England was like and pretty much no idea what to expect of Newport. I knew there were mansions there and…well.

That’s it. There were mansions there.

But now that we have spent a little time there, we are absolutely ready to return and to encourage everyone we know to visit immediately.

Because Newport is quite, quite wonderful.

Technically, Newport is located on Aquidneck Island and is one of the most famous New England resort areas. In fact, it’s been a favorite resort area for a long time, beginning during the “Gilded Age” in the mid-nineteenth century when wealthy families wanting to escape the summer heat began to build summer “cottages” on Bellevue Avenue near the coastline. The misnomer of “cottages” was ridiculous as these absurdly huge mansions were by no means cottages. The wealthy families tried to do outdo each other in building the most opulent homes you can possibly imagine and many of these are now open for tours.

newport A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

I’m just going to admit, however, that Newport did not put her best foot forward on our very first visit. In fact, the gray, foggy day that we were greeted with was enough to discourage us from liking this charming, small city but not nearly enough. We almost immediately fell in love. We loved the small town feel, the cobblestone streets, the historic homes and inns, the absolutely fabulous food, and pretty much everything else. Our first stop was to check in to the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel which, if we had not already been enamored with Newport, would have caused us to fall head over heels. An absolutely gorgeous, historic hotel located within walking distance of everything you might want to see downtown, we loved every minute of our stay here. In fact, you can read about our love affair with this hotel here but, suffice it to say, that if you are in Newport, you should stay here.

You will be very glad you did.

Hotel Exterior A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

Exterior of the Vanderbilt Grace. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

After checking in, we took a stroll around town. The fog actually gave us a nice introduction because there were not many people about and we could just enjoy the quiet streets and the deserted harbor.

City Street A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

Quiet streets.

Foggy Harbor A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

Foggy harbor.

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Seattle, the Emerald City

Drawbridge 300x199 Seattle, the Emerald CitySeattle is known as “The Emerald City” because of the lush, dark green coastal rainforests surrounding this urbane wonderland. Perched on an isthmus with Puget Sound on one side and Lake Washington on the other, from the air it’s a green paradise. But the moniker could equally refer to the green, healthy, organic experience you’ll find in the city, too. From a hotel with a growing green grass roof (no kidding!) to the well-known favorite of tourists and locals alike, Pike Place Market, where you can select flowers and produce so fresh they might be glistening with morning dew, Seattle has a lot to offer environmentally conscious visitors.

Arriving at the SeaTac airport, grab a taxi, rent a car, or splurge a little and arrange a limo to your hotel. You can then check into the Hyatt at Olive 8 (yes, the site of that green grass roof) in style. Conveniently located within walking distance of Pike Place Market and downtown shops and restaurants, the hotel offers luxurious accommodations with beautiful, modern furnishings, and high speed internet. The expansive Presidential Suite features a kitchenette, two dining areas, a living room with fireplace, a bath and a half and a walk-in closet. There’s even a nice office, complete with a computer for your own personal use. In the bath, your own personal television embedded in the mirror will keep you up on the latest news while primping for a night on the town. With huge, floor to ceiling windows offering incredible views, you just may decide you want to stay for longer than a few nights.

Read the rest of this article on Travel Squire HERE.

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Photo Friday: Kayakers in Branson

We were pleasantly surprised by how much we liked Branson, Missouri. Tom caught these kayakers on the White River nearby.

Kayakers in Branson Photo Friday: Kayakers in Branson

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Vanderbilt Grace Hotel, Newport, Rhode Island

Mansion Vanderbilt Grace Hotel, Newport, Rhode IslandHosted Accommodations



Our first view of lovely, historic Newport, Rhode Island consisted of trying to see the locale through a dense, wet fog. As we drove over the bridge onto the island, we could catch glimpses of the harbor, the cobblestone streets, the charming shops, and the historic homes.

But the weather did not bother us as we pulled into the driveway leading to the front entrance of the gorgeous red brick façade of the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel.

We were way too impressed to worry about a little fog.

Hotel Exterior Vanderbilt Grace Hotel, Newport, Rhode Island

Exterior of the Vanderbilt Grace. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

A truly lovely historic, luxury boutique hotel, it is actually a vintage Newport mansion originally built by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt of the famous Vanderbilt family and is one of the few original private homes from the 1900′s which operates as a luxury hotel. We were wowed by this impressive lineage as we walked in to the beautiful lobby which was lushly furnished and decorated.

Front Door Vanderbilt Grace Hotel, Newport, Rhode Island

Front doors to the hotel.

Foyer1 Vanderbilt Grace Hotel, Newport, Rhode Island

Impressive foyer.

We kept our high spirits right up to the desk where we sat to check in only to find out they had absolutely no idea who we were, were not expecting us, and had no room reserved for us.

For some reason, I had not confirmed our stay with the PR company I had worked with and had no confirmation number of any kind. We looked at each other, both thinking of the long drive, the bad weather, and the fact that we would just have to scrape up the money to pay for our stay because we were not heading out into that unwelcoming day.

Our fears that the Vanderbilt Grace would not handle the situation gracefully and kindly were completely unfounded as they immediately contacted the PR company, apparently worked some sort of miracle behind the scenes as they assured us calmly no problem, everything would be taken care of, we should just relax.

And they did indeed take care of everything. Not only did they almost immediately appear with a key to a fabulous suite, they offered us dinner at no charge in either of the restaurants in the hotel.

We instantly became devout fans of the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel.

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Summer in Door County, WI

Door County Summer in Door County, WI


Door County is often referred to as the Cape Cod of the Midwest and, now that I have seen it in both winter and summer and have actually visited New England, I am here to tell you that this appellation is quite correct.

This is a lovely, lovely place.

Our daughter and grandson are big fans of the beach as am I and we decided to head North this summer instead of our usual Southern destinations along the coast. Although the last time Tom and I saw the beaches of Door County they were covered in snow, I had high  hopes that this would be a great beach destination in the summer.

As indeed it was.

When Tom and I were last at Whitefish Dunes State Park, we were on snowshoes and deep, heavy, pristine snow blanketed the shoreline.

Beach in Winter Summer in Door County, WI

Whitefish Dunes State Park in the winter.

We found the swimming area sign sticking out of the snow pretty darn amusing.

Swimming Area sign Summer in Door County, WI

 Summer provided quite a different picture of the area! Although it was a somewhat cool and foggy day, we still enjoyed our stroll on the beach.

No swimming sign in summer Summer in Door County, WI

Same area in the summer.

Beach at Whitefish Dunes Summer in Door County, WI

Inviting although chilly day at the beach.

 We made the most of it and some of us even managed to play in the sand for a while.

Building sand castles Summer in Door County, WI

Building sand castles.

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