“B” is for Blimp-Our Los Angeles, California Adventure

Blimps, they are the most fascinating feats of air travel! In its most simplistic explanation, blimps are helium filled balloons, with a basket attached to the bottom.  They carry over 100 gallons of water to weigh them down since helium is literally lighter than air! They are navigated by a pilot.

As the Goodyear blimp hovered over our heads while visiting Los Angeles, we were racing against the clock to catch a photo.  We had to find a parking place near Redondo beach and hope that the sun wouldn’t cast the last rays of light before I could spring from the car all while while whipping out my camera.  No my photo isn’t perfect but that isn’t the entire purpose of playing the alphabet game is it?  We were having an adventure!

Knowing there are only about 10 blimps remaining in the world, I knew we were very lucky to be seeing this one so close to us!  To put it in perspective, there are more astronauts than blimp pilots!  The ones flying this craft tonight seem to be toying with me as they hovered overhead, then looking out to the Pacific ocean, that we would soon be embarking on for our upcoming cruise.

With such a fascination for the blimps, it is a wonder we don’t see more of them but then the most notable blimp in history was the Hindenburg and most of us still remember that tragedy which happened in 1937.  After about 60 flights that one eventually caught fire, killing 35 people and dooming the entire industry for future development.

Today the most iconic blimp remains the Goodyear blimps.  Originally developed over 100 years ago, the blimps continue to be one of the most interesting branding mediums for the company.  Goodyear has cornered the market with their blimps.  Mostly they are brought out to hover over major sporting events and offer the spectators a birds eye view as the event is broadcast from overhead.

Seating only 10 people at a time, riding in a Goodyear blimp is by invitation only and is usually reserved for charities.  Seats are auctioned off for a cost of $14,000 for 2 people!  With a 10 year waiting list, It is the rare person who will ever have an opportunity to ride in one.

The last true blimp to fly was decommissioned in 2017,  Goodyear has replaced their fleet with semi-rigid dirigible though they still refer to them as blimps since they are powered in much the same way and the term is much easier to say.

The new blimps are quieter and more easily navigated meaning they can be more readily used at major sporting events such as golf championships ensuring the Goodyear legacy will continue;

On this cool winter evening, I will revel in keeping my feet on the ground while still being close enough to this icon to see the pilots!

“X” is For Xenomania-ABC Words

X is often one of my more difficult letters to represent when we are designing an ABC Adventure.  I was so excited when I realized there are over 400 “X” words to explore!  I was even more excited to find the word “Xenomania” as one of them.

Xenomania is found in the Urban dictionary.  It is defined as “a passion for all things foreign and the customs associated.”  This seemed really fitting to begin a new year.

Since our mission for this year is to stretch ourselves, we will soon be setting out on our Pacific Island Adventure.

We also needed an “X”, to represent our purpose.

Travel opens our minds to the differences between people. What better way for us to discover the Southern Hemisphere than to allow ourselves a full immersion in cultures and customs!  We are excited to share the journey with you.   In the coming days we will be exploring new foods, seeing new sights and fully embracing all things foreign.  We plan to become “Xenomaniacs”!   Tomorrow I will share the Bucket List of goals we have created for this trip.

“A” is For Art at the Airport-ABC Air Travel

Airports are busy places.  Often we rush around and miss much of what is offered there.

Have you ever been stuck at an airport and/or had a long layover and wondered how to pass time?   Why not design a self paced art tour while you are waiting?

This was how we created our next ABC Adventure.   Our mission would be to see as many art installations as we could, while traveling through airports. We wondered if we could complete an entire alphabet. The next time we find ourselves with some time, it will be a great excuse to walk around and get some exercise.  On this day we passed 2 hours walking from terminal to terminal at Chicago O’Hare Airport.

In our quest to complete the alphabet, we have found paintings, sculptures, fiber art and so much more.  Airport art rivals that of any gallery.  The long walls, high ceilings and open spaces lend themselves to bigger installations of art.

The next time you are stuck in an airport, take a look around.  Can you complete a full ABC adventure with art as your theme?

As we try to complete the alphabet tour, we will continue to add photos as we travel and the airport locations which we find them, so be sure to check back often.

A is For

Adler Planetarium Exhibit (Chicago O’hare Airport)

The Adler Planetarium has an exhibit in the Pedestrian Walkway on the way to the CTA O’Hare Blue Line Station. The Exhibit features many posters such as the one above offering views of beautiful constellations in the night skies.

After School Matters Benches (Chicago O’hare Airport)

Located throughout the Terminal 1/2 Bridge and Terminal 5, the After School Matters Benches depict various designs. All benches are hand painted by teen apprentice artists in the After School Matters art program. After School Matters is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship programs in a variety of content areas, including the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM.


B is For

Beacons by Steven Heyman

A large square “Blue Beacon” and a large circular “Orange Beacon” suspended above the “Meet and Greet” area in the lower level of Terminal 5. Illuminated with fluorescent lamps, they measure 16′ x 16′ x 4′. The artwork was commissioned in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program.

Boeing Mosaic

This mosaic piece, created by After School Matters teen apprentice artists, celebrates aircraft manufacturer Boeing’s 100th anniversary in 2016. The piece hangs in Terminal 3, in the hallway between the Rotunda and H1. After School Matters is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens innovative out-of-school activities through science, sports, technology,creative writing and the nationally recognized gallery program.


C is For

Chicago Sister City Flags (Chicago O’hare Airport)

Representing the nations of Chicago’s Sister Cities, the flags are presented with help from Chicago Sister Cities International. Public art in and around Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport; January 2020.

City Windows by Qiao Xiaoguang (Chicago O’hare Airport)

Created using ancient Chinese paper cutting techniques, City Windows depicts iconic sites from Beijing and Chicago. The piece commemorates the friendship and cooperation between China and Chicago. It is located near Terminal 1 Gate B19.


D is For


E is For

The Evolution of O’Hare (Chicago O’Hare Airport)

This gallery of aerial photos offers travelers a look at how the O’Hare airfield has evolved since it opened in 1945. A timeline of historical events accompanies each photo. The gallery can be found in the Terminal 3 L Stinger (Gates L20-24).


F is For

G is For

H is For

Here and There by Mitchell Egly (Chicago O’Hare Airport)

Created as a part of the City of Chicago’s 50 x 50 Neighborhood Arts Project and initiated during the Year of Public Art, Here and There is a visual representation of the many neighborhoods that comprise the 41st Ward, the Ward O’Hare is within. This piece was sponsored by by 41st Ward Alderman Napolitano’s office. It is located within the airport’s Bus Shuttle Center.


I is For

I’ve Known Rivers by Alejandro Ramero and Gallery 37  (Chicago O’Hare)

A 208-foot long mural painted in acrylics, that brings to life the words and spirit of the Langston Hughes poem of the same name. The mural, created by teen apprentice artists from After School Matters, is located in the CTA Pedway. After School Matters is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship programs in a variety of content areas, including the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM.


J is For

Jet Trails by Guy Kemper (Chicago O’Hare)

This sculpture measures 50 feet in length and 12 feet in height and consists of hand-blown painted glass in cool shades of blue, green and violet. The sculpture is suspended onto the window mullions directly across from Security Checkpoint 3 in Terminal 1 (past security).

K is For

L is For

M is For

N is For

O is For

On The Wings of Water (Chicago O’Hare)

A 35,000-piece Venetian glass and tile mosaic shows how air travel and water link cultures across continents and between cities, towns, and rural areas. It was completed with the help of After School Matters student artists and can be found in the Rotunda between Terminals 2 and 3 (past security). After School Matters is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship programs in a variety of content areas, including the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM.


P is For

Palimpsest by Nick Cave (Chicago O’Hare)

A dimensional tapestry constructed of hand-strung, beaded shoelaces woven with memory-steeped iconography and patterns through a nylon fishing net base layer. The piece represents a travel to understanding, the web of humanity, and future memories. Its colors come directly from Chicago’s unique skyline and is a continuation of the greeting a visitor takes in through their airplane’s window as they begin their decent for landing. It is located within the airport’s Multi Modal Facility.


Q is For


R is For

The Runners by Theodoros Papagiannis (Chicago O’Hare)

The Runners, a 16-foot sculpture, is located along the I-190 south side embankment and can be seen by motorists and CTA Blue Line riders exiting the airport. Donated by the Athens Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International and supported by Chicago’s large Greek-American community, the sculpture depicts five runners emerging from antiquity into the modern world. A maquette of this same piece is located within Terminal 5, behind the Arrivals Level information desk.

S is For

77 Neighborhoods (Chicago O’Hare)

This photo exhibit, located in the Terminal 5 corridor approaching the US Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Services area, showcases architecture, life, and popular scenes from across Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods.

Skies The Limit (Chicago O’Hare)

A multi-sensory sculpture which extends above the walkway connecting concourse B and C in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.  The artist, Michael Hayden was commissioned by the airport in 1987 to design the 744 foot-long, neon kinetic sculpture which changes color in time to music.

Sister Cities by After School Matters (Chicago O’Hare)

Inspired by Chicago’s numerous Sister Cities, the mural depicts scenes from cities across the globe. Teen apprentice artists from After School Matters created the piece. After School Matters is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship programs in a variety of content areas, including the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM. It is located in the hallway between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.

Student Frontiers by After School Matters (Chicago O’Hare)

Teen apprentice artists participating in After School Matters programs created this mural in 2016. After School Matters is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship programs in a variety of content areas, including the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM. This mural is located in the CTA Pedway.


T is For

Treasury of Petra by Sonia Twal (Chicago O’Hare)

A limestone and marble mosaic donated to the City of Chicago from its sister city Amman, Jordan.  It can be found in Terminal 5 near Gate M14. The mosaic was inspired by the carved rock and stone facade of the red-rose city of Petra in the southern Jordanian desert. The limestone and marble used in Twal’s representation were obtained from the Petra region.

U is For

V is For

W is For

X is For

Y is For

Youth in the Loop by After School (Chicago O’Hare)

Teen apprentice artists participating in After School Matters programs created this mural in 2015. After School Matters is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship programs in a variety of content areas, including the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM. This mural is located in the CTA pedway.

Z is For

“W” is For Word of the Year

Welcome to a brand new year! I know it is cliche’ to say that today offers a fresh start and a clean slate.  I often think of my life as a book which I am continuously writing.  Today is the beginning of a brand new chapter, which is yet to be defined.  The pages are still blank.  This optimistic view is the way I think about the beginning of most years.

But, I am also realist. Yesterdays challenges soon begin to spill into today. Too many things pull at our attention, the chapters of our story become mundane, or they continue to be written in the same manner. Time, left with no direction, will fall through our hands and before we know it, years have passed and we remain stuck in the same patterns of behavior.

Today is a good day for reflection. How is your story of life unfolding so far?  Are you longing for adventure, wishing you had more money or time?  Are you in a good relationship?   Would you like to learn a new language or change careers?  Do you dream of losing weight or stopping smoking?

The New Year always seems hopeful.  Most people make resolutions at the beginning of each year;  to lose weight, to give up bad habits, to learn something new and to spend more time doing things they love, seem to be the most common.   By the end of the second week of a new year, most resolutions have already been forgotten as we slide back into old routines.

By the end of the year, when we realize we have not met our goals (again),  we think back to our resolutions and feel like failures, yet every year we return to the same pattern of goal setting.  This self deprecating behavior has a negative influence on our psyche.

What if a small shift in attitude could redirect how you experience your days? What if we no longer set resolutions? How freeing would that simple act be?

Years ago our family gave up this New Year tradition, instead we began choosing a single word on New Year’s Eve. This word would still be reflective of the things we wanted to change, the growth we aspired to and the direction we hoped to go.

The word would touch all areas of our lives (relationships, personal growth, goals etc). Our word could be carried with us throughout the year.  We could interpret the word in any way which made sense to us.  By choosing just one word (or a few), we could focus on change. Anytime we honored our word, we would succeed.

The word of the year is a positive, inspirational and hopeful message, that change is possible. These little words simply focus our intentions, inviting more of what you need or what you hope to achieve.  They can reflect your ambitions, give you purpose, set goals and more.  These little words define and lead you to your best self.

I see the word as a kind of compass for the coming year.

For example a resolution might be to lose weight but our word choice instead became “healthy”.  How much more positive it became as we shifted our focus just a little.  With this tiny word in front of us,  we could give ourselves credit for every action we took throughout the year towards healthy living.  Maybe we drank an extra glass of water, or took a walk, or went to bed at a reasonable hour, or chose to skip dessert.

When we offered ourselves this positive feedback, we wanted to continue.  Perhaps the next day we did a little more, perhaps in a week we noticed we had lost a pound or two.  The goals were being met, but there was no pressure…just a little word reminding us of our intentions.

Intentional living is the underlying mission of this site.  Living your best life will always be the goal, it does not require a single day to begin, however New Year’s Day is the perfect time for change.  If you are reading this today and it doesn’t happen to be New Years Day, then just jump in.  Small incremental changes, lead to lasting results.


How to choose your word

1. Ask yourself questions.  What is it you want to change, learn or discover?  What would you do differently than last year?  Is there something you want to continue doing?  What do you want more of in life?  What do you want less of?  What is holding you back?  (Think of an opposite word.  For example fear becomes brave.)

2. Brainstorm.  Jot down as many words as come to mind.  These should be positive and affirming.  Think about where you want to direct your life this year.  It is okay if you have several or many words at this point. If you are stuck, there is a list of over 450 words below.

3. Narrow your list down.  If you are left with more than one word, consider breaking the year down into quarters or in half. You could even choose a different word each month!

Keep your word visible

Keep your word in front of you and make sure you can see it every day.  Make a cute graphic and put it on your phone.  Write it out in big letters and post it on a wall.  Put your word next to a place you use routinely…the coffee maker, a mirror or the back door.  Write it on a small pebble or piece of paper and carry it around in your pocket.  Make a plan(s)to bump into your word frequently.  Each time you do, it will remind you to live your word.

Put your word into affirmations.  Affirmations are powerful messages.  They are written, spoken or meditated upon in the first person.  For example, my word in 2019 was “expand”.  Every decision I made in that year, I asked myself if I was expanding.  This year in particular was a year of mental growth, as I immersed myself in learning.  I was focused on learning to:  garden, preserve food, write and improve my photography.  Here are a few of my affirmations:

” I am expanding my knowledge.”

“My relationships with people are expanding”.

“As I expand, I feel connected.”



As with all our word games, there are no rules, except those we define for ourselves.  If you want to choose a new word each month, go ahead and do so.  If you want to use more than one word at a time, that is okay too.

Our words

Here are the words I have chosen for the past few years:

2019 Expand

2020  Embrace

2021 Adapt

2022 Revive

After years of being stuck at home, not seeing family, missing celebrations, struggling with shortages of every kind and numerous challenges we have developed a bit of negativity about how the years are unfolding.  We have been very blessed in this life so we have decided it was time to find the silver lining in the moments.   We have worked hard throughout our lives and now have the means to travel and rest in our retirement.  We are surrounded by good people.  Our 2023 word gives us an opportunity to reflect on all the many, many things we still have to be thankful for.

Our word for this year is “Appreciate”.  We move forward into the unknown with an appreciation for all which we have, all which we create and an abundance of joy.

What word will you choose this year?


450+ Word of the Year Ideas

  • Absolve
  • Abundance
  • Abundant
  • Accept
  • Acceptance
  • Achieve
  • Act
  • Action
  • Adapt
  • Add
  • Advance
  • Adventure
  • Affect
  • Affluence
  • Alert
  • Align
  • Alignment
  • Alive
  • Allow
  • Amaze
  • Amazing
  • Ambition
  • Amplify
  • Anchor
  • Appreciate
  • Articulate
  • Ascend
  • Aspire
  • Attention
  • Awake
  • Awaken
  • Aware
  • Awareness
  • Awe
  • Awesome
  • Bad ass
  • Balance
  • Balanced
  • Be
  • Beautiful
  • Beauty
  • Become
  • Begin
  • Behold
  • Believe
  • Belong
  • Best
  • Better
  • Big
  • Birth
  • Bliss
  • Bloom
  • Bold
  • Boss
  • Bounce
  • Boundaries
  • Boundless
  • Bounty
  • Brave
  • Breath
  • Breathe
  • Bridge
  • Bright
  • Brother
  • Build
  • Calm
  • Capable
  • Captivating
  • Capture
  • Care
  • Caring
  • Celebrate
  • Center
  • Centered
  • Challenge
  • Change
  • Charisma
  • Chase
  • Cheer
  • Cheerful
  • Cleanse
  • Clear
  • Comfort
  • Commit
  • Committed
  • Communicate
  • Communication
  • Community
  • Compassion
  • Complete
  • Completion
  • Compose
  • Compromise
  • Confidence
  • Connect
  • Connection
  • Conquer
  • Conscious
  • Considerate
  • Consistency
  • Consistent
  • Contemplation
  • Contribute
  • Courage
  • Create
  • Creation
  • Creative
  • Creativity
  • Cultivate
  • Daughter
  • Declutter
  • Decrease
  • Dedicate
  • Dedication
  • Deliberate
  • Delight
  • Depth
  • Determination
  • Determined
  • Devote
  • Diligence
  • Direction
  • Discipline
  • Discover
  • Dream
  • Ease
  • Ecstasy
  • Education
  • Elevate
  • Elevation
  • Embody
  • Embrace
  • Emerge
  • Empathy
  • Empire
  • Empower
  • Encourage
  • Energize
  • Energy
  • Engage
  • Enhance
  • Enjoy
  • Enjoyment
  • Enlighten
  • Enlightenment
  • Enough
  • Enrapture
  • Enthuse
  • Enthusiasm
  • Enthusiastic
  • Environment
  • Epitome
  • Escalate
  • Examine
  • Excite
  • Excitement
  • Expand
  • Expansion
  • Experience
  • Exploration
  • Explore
  • Extraordinary
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Fast
  • Father
  • Favorite
  • Fearless
  • Finish
  • Fitness
  • Flourish
  • Flow
  • Fly
  • Focus
  • Force
  • Forgive
  • Forgiveness
  • Forward
  • Foster
  • Foundation
  • Free
  • Freedom
  • Friend
  • Friends
  • Fulfill
  • Fulfilling
  • Fun
  • Future
  • Gain
  • Generosity
  • Generous
  • Gentle
  • Gently
  • Give
  • Giving
  • Glisten
  • Glorious
  • Glow
  • Glow-up
  • Go
  • Goals
  • Grace
  • Gracious
  • Gratitude
  • Grounded
  • Grow
  • Growth
  • Habit
  • Happiness
  • Happy
  • Harmony
  • Heal
  • Health
  • Healthy
  • Help
  • Helpful
  • Heart
  • Here
  • Higher
  • Hold
  • Home
  • Honest
  • Honesty
  • Hope
  • Humble
  • Humility
  • Hustle
  • Ignite
  • Imagination
  • Imagine
  • Immerse
  • Improve
  • Improvement
  • Increase
  • Indulge
  • Infinity
  • Influence
  • Innovation
  • Insight
  • Inspiration
  • Inspire
  • Integrity
  • Intent
  • Intention
  • Intentional
  • Intimacy
  • Intimate
  • Intuition
  • Invest
  • Journey
  • Joy
  • Jump
  • Kind
  • Kindness
  • Laugh
  • Laughter
  • Lead
  • Leader
  • Leadership
  • Learn
  • Less
  • Liberate
  • Life
  • Light
  • Limitless
  • Listen
  • Live
  • Love
  • Luxury
  • Magic
  • Magical
  • Manifest
  • Maximize
  • Meaning
  • Meditate
  • Memories
  • Metamorphosis
  • Mindful
  • Mindfulness
  • Mindset
  • Minimize
  • Moment
  • Moments
  • Monetize
  • Money
  • More
  • Mother
  • Move
  • New
  • Nature
  • Nirvana
  • No
  • Nourish
  • Now
  • Nurture
  • Observe
  • Open
  • Optimistic
  • Organize
  • Overcome
  • Pardon
  • Partner
  • Passion
  • Patience
  • Pause
  • Peace
  • Permission
  • Persevere
  • Persist
  • Perspective
  • Play
  • Playful
  • Pleasure
  • Positivity
  • Possibilities
  • Possibility
  • Possible
  • Power
  • Powerful
  • Practice
  • Pray
  • Presence
  • Present
  • Prime
  • Prioritize
  • Priority
  • Process
  • Probable
  • Progress
  • Progression
  • Prosper
  • Purpose
  • Question
  • Quiet
  • Radiant
  • Re-brand
  • Receive
  • Reclaim
  • Reflect
  • Reflection
  • Relax
  • Release
  • Renew
  • Renewal
  • Reset
  • Resolve
  • Respect
  • Rest
  • Retreat
  • Revive
  • Rich
  • Rise
  • Rise
  • Romance
  • Satisfaction
  • Satisfy
  • Seek
  • Self
  • Self-care
  • Selfish
  • Self-love
  • Self-worth
  • Serene
  • Serenity
  • Service
  • Share
  • Shift
  • Shine
  • Siblings
  • Simple
  • Simplicity
  • Simplify
  • Sister
  • Sisterhood
  • Slow
  • Small
  • Smile
  • Soar
  • Son
  • Soul
  • Soulful
  • Space
  • Spark
  • Sparkle
  • Speak
  • Spirit
  • Steady
  • Still
  • Stillness
  • Strength
  • Strengthen
  • Stretch
  • Strive
  • Strong
  • Succeed
  • Success
  • Successful
  • Support
  • Surrender
  • Surround
  • Surroundings
  • Survive
  • Sympathy
  • Teach
  • Tempest
  • Think
  • This
  • Thoughtful
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Thrill
  • Thrilling
  • Thrive
  • Today
  • Touch
  • Transcend
  • Transform
  • Transformation
  • Transparent
  • Travel
  • Treasure
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Try
  • Unchained
  • Understand
  • Unleash
  • Unique
  • Unlimited
  • Unstoppable
  • Value
  • Vibrant
  • Vision
  • Visionary
  • Vitality
  • Voice
  • Vulnerability
  • Vulnerable
  • Wake
  • Wander
  • Wealth
  • Wealthy
  • Wellness
  • Whole
  • Wholehearted
  • Why
  • Wild
  • Win
  • Winning
  • Wisdom
  • Wise
  • Wish
  • Wonder
  • Work
  • Worth
  • Worthy
  • Wow
  • Yes
  • Zenith





“L” is For Lightweight Luggage-Packing Tips and Tricks

Don’ t waste your weight limits by owning heavy suitcases!  On a recent trip, I weighed our cases before I even began packing.  They weighed over 13 pounds and this was before I had even added one pair of socks!

With average weight restrictions on most flights being only 50 pounds, I was frustrated with giving up over 20% of the maximum allowance to the suitcase.  But where to begin looking for a new case?

There are so many options when it comes to luggage.  Since we would be making a substantial financial investment in them, I wanted to give some thought to what we needed.

My body is aging and lifting cases has become more difficult over the years.   I want to be able to move the cases easily.  I was looking for a case which could be pushed or pulled.  My last wish was for adjustable handles, since there is a significant height difference between my husband and I.

We knew we would be taking these cases around the world.  I needed them to be sturdy but as light as possible since we might be away for long trips, which might require a lot of clothing.

There were many things which distracted me while I was shopping, such as built in power banks, but sticking to my original wishes, I realized these would just  weigh the bag down.

A little research and a shopping trip later, we ended up with these great bags from Travel Pro.   With over 8,000 reviews, customers consistently expressed how happy they were with the cases.  Many had completed hundreds of trips and still saw the bags outperforming others.  I was sold.

The Travelpro Maxlight 5 is regularly featured on many travel blogs (which is how I had found it).There are 4 different size options ranging from carry on to 29″.  There is also an underseat tote.

We chose the 26″ for our needs.  This large suitcase weighs just 7.5 pounds!  This gave me an additional 5+ pounds of wiggle room, compared to our older luggage.

With 10 choices of colors, the most difficult decision was which one to choose. In the end, we defaulted to our trustworthy black.  Although we loved many of the color choices, we worried that some of the lighter ones might show the dirt (even though they are stain restistant), we just wanted low maintenance.  We also knew that we would eventually tire of the colored cases,  or they would become obsolete in time.  Since we expect to keep these for a while, we stuck with the tried and true.

There were additional features which attracted us to this luggage such as:

  • spinner wheels- so we don’t have to pull the case.
  • multiple locking positions on the handle-adjusts for tall/short people.
  • a water and stain resistant exterior- which is handy if the case sits outside in inclement weather (as ours did on our 2021 trip to England).
  • side handles AND top handles-for easy grabbing in every direction off of those overfull baggage carousels.
  • an expanding zipper- which adds an additional 2 inches of depth to the case.  Great when you buy too many souvenirs.
  • many zippered sections-to tuck in those odd items.
  • a separate lid pocket-great for separating and organizing.
  • patterned interior-this was especially helpful with the small tote.  No more caverns of dark fabric when reaching into a deep bag.
  • interior straps-to keep the contents snug.



J is for Java-Playing With Words

When we are on an ABC adventure, there are certain letters which always give us challenge. J is one of those letters.  Coffee is often a part of many of our adventures but we are always challenging ourselves to find new ways to describe it.  Java and Joe are both J themed words we can substitute and on this adventure it was our excuse to check out a great little drive through called Cuppa “Joe”.

Thank goodness for the Ethiopian goat herder,  who  realized how energized his goats became after eating the berries from a certain tree.  He noted that the goats wouldn’t sleep at night after consuming the berries. The story goes that the goat herder took the berries to the monks, who steeped them in water, noting that drinking the elixir allowed them to remain awake during evening prayers. News of the magic potion spread around the world.

Thomas Jefferson once said “Coffee-the favorite drink of the civilized world.”   Beans are now grown worldwide and is second only to crude oil, as the most sought after commodity in the world!

It matters not what you choose to call your coffee but if you need it to get started and want to make great use of your letter “J” , you could call it  java, joe, jitter juice or jamocha all will be as satisfying and a perfect excuse to take a break.

I is for Ice Cream

Ice cream means summer to us.  We literally count the season by how many weeks the ice cream shops are open! This favorite confection was once limited to the elite.  Currently the price of a cone from an ice cream shop is running around $5 per cone,  which does start to crimp the budget if we are eating it almost daily (which Alan does through the season).  Thankfully I can find ice cream on sale pretty regularly for about $2.50 per half gallon, which can sustain him for a week, so he never feels deprived.

Ice cream hasn’t always been so readily available.  The origins of ice cream are debatable, Romans and Chinese Royalty are both referenced.  Imagine that the earliest version of this treat would have some poor soul being sent off on an expedition to travel through the desert then climb the highest mountains to collect glacial ice, which was sweetened by fruits!  It is not hard to imagine then that this treat was limited to royalty.

It would take until the 1700’s before being brought to the United States.  American Colonists would be the first to call it “Iced Cream”, which would later be shortened to the phrase we know today.  With the introduction of mechanical refrigeration sometime around 1897 the product could be sold in a commercial setting.  It would take another 7 years before the ice cream cone would debut at the St. Louis World Fair, finally making the treat portable.

Today there are so many flavors to choose from.  We could probably spend hours at an ice cream counter trying to figure out what we want…hard or soft, what flavor, toppings or not, cake cone, sugar cone or cup.  The options are endless.

One thing is for certain, with an ice cream shop in nearly every town we visit, we never deprive ourselves of this sweet treat.  Life is simply too short to miss an opportunity for these tiny blissful moments.  Even though ice cream is easily accessible these days, there is still associated with special occasions and if living itself isn’t reason to celebrate, then I don’t know what is…eat the ice cream and imagine yourself a royal!

“A” is for Ambience and Other Great A Words


"The Minack", one of our favorite ampitheaters.

“The Minack”, one of our favorite ampitheaters.

When designing your ABC adventure, pay attention to the ambience, or mood you are creating.  Consider a unique setting for your adventure.  Have you ever attended  a performance in an outdoor ampitheater?  (You can read about our favorite one here. ) Perhaps in a location like this, someone will be singing acappella, playing an accordian, or an autoharp.  They might be accompanying on an acoustic guitar.   Or maybe actors and actresses will be showing their ability to perform upon a simple stage, or perhaps an ad lib comedy show has come to town.  Whatever ambience you create on your personal ABC adventure, be sure to document it in your writing.

ABC Lists-Exploring With the Letter “F”

This is an ever expanding list for the letter F. Here you will find words which describe; activities, name places  (cities, towns, states, countries, restaurants, stores etc).  Words may elicit emotions, describe an event or festival or be the beginning of phrases and quotes. . Basically, you are limited only by your own imagination.  Therefore, this is a long list, with a variety of words which might be helpful when planning any adventure using the letter F. This list will be updated regularly, as more suggestions are offered. Eventually it will be broken down into categories. Remember, a word may have more than one meaning. For example, the word “farm” might bring to mind a Farmers Market for one person but an animal farm for another. Words can become actions, emotions or lead you to discover new destinations. They won’t necessarily be the same as the dictionary definition. Be creative and use this list in any way that inspires you to try something new! It will be impossible to list every word/phrase beginning with F here, so remember to look for restaurants, stores, road names etc., to inspire you. Think beyond locations. Consider new foods to try, animals to see , experiences to have, song titles that speak to you, or anything else that gets you thinking out of the box. Let your own individual experiences reflect a personal journey of discovery and have fun with the wordplay! As always, we value your contributions, so please leave a comment when you think of other ways to explore, using the letter F. (Please remember to keep your comments G-rated!)  Here is our list so far.  Remember to check back often as we are always growing the lists.







Farmer’s Market


Favorite (colors, flowers, foods, quotes….)

Favorite Things to do Alone

Favorite Things to do Together














Fish & Chips






Folk/ Folklore/Folk dance


Food (eat it, make it or catch it)











French Cuisine