El Nino to the Rescue?

After living in Virginia for ten years where it seemed to rain and rain for days on end, I never thought I would be so happy to see rain here in southern California.  I usually love mild to warm sunny weather, but even I am hoping for rain to help drought stricken California.

Rain drops on a red umbrella

I get silently angry at neighbors who waste water and have an ongoing battle with the gardener who keeps changing our sprinkler system to water more.  Yes, the lawn is dying and that is just the way it has to be.  When we moved into our current neighborhood two months ago, we learned that we are only allowed to water once per week for ten minutes.  Grass cannot live with that little water.  The idea of green lawns is a thing of the past and people need to get over it.  I admit though that I’m hoping our small lawn will hold on until the El Nino rains arrive…but will it rain?  Experts admit that an El Nino exists, but these same experts do not want to get hopes up that the El Nino will bring rain, and if it does rain, it will likely be too much rain causing flooding and mud slides.

As I write this, songs about rain keep going through my head.  Please do a little rain dance for California…here are some songs to get you moving.

1. Umbrella by Rihanna

2. Purple Rain by Prince

3. Here Comes the Rain Again by The Eurythmics

4. The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks

5. I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbitt

What are your favorite songs about rain?

5 Tips for Happier Air Travel

child to prepare for the trip

I have been flying across the country for business once or twice a month for the last six months and since I cannot afford to fly on private planes, or even in first class, here are some things I found to make the experience less bad.

1. Sign up for TSA Pre-Check
Once approved, you can go through the TSA Pre-Check line which means you do not have to take off your shoes or lightweight jacket and can leave your laptop and quart sized bag of liquids in your carry-on. Also, you get to go through the old school metal detector instead of the spinny thing where they look at you naked.

2. Stay Warm
Even in the summer I tend to freeze on airplanes. Bring socks, a sweater and a thin warm blanket that will fit in your carry-on to put on while on the plane.

3. Eat
Bring food on board or eat before boarding so you do not get stuck with just the limited on board choices from the cart. Fellow passengers often laugh at me and my bag of food, but are soon jealous when I have a sandwich, chips and a cookie and they are eating a box of stale snacks.

4. Entertainment
Small devices can now be used during the entire flight so bring your iPad or favorite electronic device and don’t forget your power cord!  Most planes now have wifi and in-seat power.

5. Roll Clothes
I know people have probably heard this before, but rolling your clothes really does save a lot of space in a suitcase and can make a huge difference in how much luggage needs to be hauled. I can now pack for two weeks in one suitcase and a carry-on (which is a huge improvement for me!).

With planes getting more and more cramped, flying is rarely fun, but these few things help me get to my destination a little bit happier than I would have otherwise.

What are your tips for better air travel?

If I Was on The Amazing Race

Love traveling all over the world

If I was on The Amazing Race I am pretty confident that I would be on the first team eliminated.  The entire concept of the show stresses me out, but I cannot help to think it would be fun.  I was recently watching the show with a friend and we decided we would play a little differently than most teams…which is why we would not make it far in the competition, but we would play the game our way.

Here is why we would get eliminated early:

1. Roller bags – how do these people travel with just a backpack?  I could not travel for that long with just a quart sized bag of liquids either.

2. Waiting for luggage – given the roller bags, we would need to wait for our checked luggage. Who knows though, we might meet people in baggage claim who could help us.

3. Parallel parking – I learned to drive and grew up in a land of giant parking lots where parallel parking wasn’t even on the driving test so we would need to find parking lots or garages.

4. I cannot drive a stick – those little cars in foreign countries with manual transmissions would stump us.

5. Nasty food – we would fight over who had to eat the nasty food.

6. Anxiety – I would need lots of anxiety medicine to deal with the stress!

7. We would probably quit and go drinking when we got to a cool city.

Although we likely would not win, we would have more fun and appreciate the experience more than the people who rush and act like jerks to the locals and other contestants.

5 Food Trends that Should Die

Food trends come and go.  Here are five food trends I hope go the way of the pet rock very soon.

hamburger witih egg

1. Kale – Coating it in butter or oil to break down the texture (think kale chips), which most people do, really ruins the point of eating kale.

2. Quinoa – Does anyone really like quinoa?  Most people don’t even know how to pronounce it correctly.  I’ll stick with brown rice, thank you.

3. Egg on top – I like eggs, but not on top of anything.  I don’t even like watching someone else eat something, like a burger, with an egg put on top of it. It’s just wrong.

4. Small plates – I want a reasonable sized plate of food in a restaurant…not 6 or 8 “small plates” that add up to costing fortune.  Plus, how do you know how many plates to order and they tend to come out of the kitchen at random times.

5. Bacon with everything – I like bacon, but since I gave up eating mammals and birds I don’t want bacon thrown in everything because now I sound picky asking restaurants to “hold the bacon”.  Even when I was eating bacon, I still did not want it on my donut or mixed with ice cream.

What did I miss?

The 7 Beaches of Caneel Bay

Staying at Caneel Bay on the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands is like staying at seven different resorts all in one since there are seven beaches on the resort’s 170 acres, and an eighth beach also within walking distance. Each of the Caneel Bay beaches are wonderful, but each is a little different, providing something for everyone.

1. Turtle Bay Beach

Turtle Bay beach is my favorite of the seven Caneel Bay beaches, especially early in the morning.  None of the beaches get really crowded, but I like getting here early when nobody else is there.

Turtle Bay Beach St. John

There is good snorkeling and swimming.

Turtle Bay Beach St. John

And I like watching the boats go by.

Turtle Bay Beach St. John

2. Scott Beach

Scott beach is my second favorite and I like it in the afternoon when the sun is shining on this side of the resort.  Although I have never had issues with kids at Caneel Bay, Scott beach is one of two adults only beaches at Caneel Bay.  We have never snorkeled at this beach, but apparently there is sea grass that attracts sea turtles.  Most of the Caneel Bay beaches do not have any services (drinks, towels, etc.) however Scott beach has a supply of towels and a small stand where you can get drinks made during certain times.

Scott beach is the longest of the Caneel Bay beaches.  Here is it as seen from the water.

Scott Beach St. John

And as seen from land.

Scott Beach St. John

 Scott Beach St. John

3. Hawksnest Beach

My husband loves Hawksnest beach.  The sun shines on this beach in the early part of the day and by late afternoon is completely shaded.  The water is warm and he likes to end the day here with his chair pulled into the water.  There is good snorkeling at Hawksnest beach and there are nice views of other beaches that are not part of Caneel Bay.

Hawsknest St. John

Hawksnest Caneel Bay

Hawsknest Caneel Bay

4. Honeymoon Beach

Ahh, Honeymoon beach.  This beach is breathtaking it’s so beautiful.  It requires a short hike to get to it so it’s not as convenient, but it’s worth the walk.  Snorkel boats also show up in the afternoon so it’s best to get here in the morning.  This is also the only beach that does not have guest rooms on it.  A stand was opened recently that rents chairs and water sports equipment and you can order food from Caneel Bay.  I like Honeymoon beach less since the stand opened, but it is still beautiful.

Honeymoon Beach Caneel Bay

The view of Honeymoon beach from our room.

Honeymoon Beach Caneel Bay

And the view of our room (in the distance) from Honeymoon beach.

Honeymoon Beach Caneel Bay

5. Paradise Beach

Paradise beach is also adults only and only has a couple of guest rooms near it.  It is the perfect beach for a quiet sunset and it is quite small so usually there are only a few people on it.  The downside here is that there were a lot of sea urchins in the water when we were there so we had to be careful.

Paradise Beach Caneel Bay

6. Caneel Beach

Caneel beach is the main beach where the boats dock and is next to the front desk, water sports desk, restaurant, bar, etc.  It is probably the most “crowded” but still isn’t crowded.  Non Caneel Bay guests can also use this beach.  Families with small children tend to stay here for the convenience of being near everything.

Caneel Bay

7. Little Caneel Beach

Little Caneel beach is a small beach that is really only used by people staying in the rooms on the Little Caneel beach.  Again, this beach is close to all the facilities and great for families with small kids.

Little Caneel

All the Caneel Bay beaches are great, but if I had to pick, I would spend the morning at Turtle Bay beach and the afternoon at Scott beach.  The variety of beaches is one of the reasons we love Caneel Bay so much.

What is your favorite Caneel Bay beach?

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