Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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As we move into 2014, we would like to take the opportunity to wish all of you a happy and prosperous new year.  Thank you all for the inspiration and support you have shown us throughout the year.

May all your travels be safe; your troubles be few and friends be many.

 

Categories: Travel | Tags: | 1 Comment

Was “Going Off Grid” a Premonition?


Many moons ago I wrote “Going Off Grid“.  Little did I know that it would be months before I found my way back to the keyboard.  It’s funny how life has a way of rearranging your priorities and derailing the best laid plans.

Two weeks before our vacation my husband and I enrolled in a week long intensive trading course offered by Online Trading Academy.  I will write more about this in a later post but at the time, I had visions of sitting on the deck of our beach rental overlooking the ocean while practicing my new skills.   I also had serious intentions of posting awesome pictures and quick posts about the experiences we were destined to enjoy.

Wow!  How wrong could I be!?!  Before we ever arrived at our rental, we realized our cell phone reception was severely lacking.  We had trouble making calls the closer we got and after arriving we realized we not only had little to no reception we also had NO internet to speak of.  Being optimists at heart we hoped that the thunderstorms that invaded the island on Friday morning were causing the interference.  The sun came out on Sunday afternoon but had no effect on the cells or internet.  Well… there went my hopes for sporadic posting.

Ok, so that was the bad news.  The good news is, by being disconnected (literally) we were able to completely enjoy our vacation and experience everything just for the sake of enjoying it.  No wondering if I should post this pic right away or tweet the beautiful sunset or check in on Foursquare.  We were not connected to the digital world but found that it gave us more time to connect with each other and the beauty around us.

All in all, going off grid was just what we had in mind!

Boomers walk

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Beaches, Texas, Travel | 2 Comments

Going Off Grid


Going off grid often means different things to different people.  For me, it means a REAL vacation.  I’ve mentioned before that most of our travel is related to business, either Mr. Yapa’s business or my travel business.  While any travel is a good time as far as I’m concerned, it’s been more years than I want to admit since we have taken a full out vacation.

This will be my view for an entire 9 days!

Our view for the week

 

Oh, yeah!  An entire week literally on the beach in one of my favorite Texas locales, Galveston.  We were there last year and shared some of that trip on the Galveston – Not Just a Beach Destination article.

We decided to check out renting a beach house this time instead of a hotel.  I realized in doing my homework on it, that it is a perfect fit for us.  We love cooking together especially grilling and smoking outdoors and we are going to be on the coast where there is plenty of fresh seafood.  Music on the deck, mere steps away from the beach, coffee while watching the sunrise… wow… I don’t think I can wait three more weeks.

Did I forget to mention, my BFF from school is flying in from Atlanta to spend the weekend with us?  We rarely get to see each other so this is going to be a real treat.  I sure hope we don’t drive Mr. Yapa totally insane.

Have a good one, my friends.  I promise to share lots of pics during our stay.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Beaches, Texas, Travel | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

When In Texas…


I recently had a rare but welcomed “aha” moment.  I’ve been less than inspired of late, mainly because this crazy year has put a damper on our usual travel plan.  I like to share stories, information, pictures and recommendations from experience and there just hasn’t been much of it lately, or so I thought.

For the next month or so, I want to share with you my home state, Texas.   From the stockyards in Fort Worth, to international Galleria shopping in Dallas and Houston, to the incredible Gulf coast and the beautiful Hill Country there is an enormous array of destinations, experiences and culinary treats to be found.  I’m really excited to share everything with you and maybe inspire you to visit this awesome state.

Let’s start with the number one tip for visiting Texas.  Rent a car!!  Everything is bigger in Texas, or so we say.  If you want to really experience all that Texas has to offer, rent a car and do what we grow up doing.  We measure distance by time, not miles.  Sounds a little different, doesn’t it?  If I’m heading to the coast, for example, I don’t know how far it is in miles but I know that I can be in Galveston in less than 6 hours depending on traffic I hit in Houston.  If I am going home to visit family, it’s a 2.5 hour drive.  Heading to Dallas?  Yep, about 45 minutes.  Not one of those destinations do I know the mileage for.  It’s just not the way we travel.

Texas is large… really large and there is no way you can experience any given area by cab or public transport alone.  Even staying in Dallas is easier with your own mode of transport.  Face it, this is not New York and we are not known for our public transportation.  We are spread out without a lot of “walking distance” attractions close by.  Trust me, rent a car.  You will find so much more opened up to you.

I can’t wait to tell you about the real vacation Mr. Yapa and I have planned, right here in the State of Texas!  Stay tuned…

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Texas, Travel | 4 Comments

Pit Envy


I know you are thinking I’ve gone totally bonkers with a title saying “Pit Envy”.  No, I am not referring to armpits or peach pits or Pit Bulls.  I have a confession to make.  I am a closet bbq pitmaster wannabe.  There!  I said it!  Whew… confession is good for the soul!  Now that we’ve cleared the air about the pits, I have to tell you about an exciting thing that happened on the way home from our short road trip to Austin.  Have you ever noticed that many wonderful things happen when you wander off the beaten path and just go with it?

Food is always a part of my travel plans.  I love searching out local fare and then recreating it when I get home.  I try to always steer away from the chain restaurants and look for something local.  That’s where it’s at!

We were about half-way home when I told Mr. Yapa that I was starving and could we stop and grab something.  It had been such a hectic morning, I didn’t take time to eat and only had a cup of coffee for breakfast.  There was the usual assortment of fast food restaurants then we saw a sign for Schoepf’s in Belton, Texas.  I love good BBQ and I was I was starving afterall.

Best BBQ in Texas!

Notice I said good BBQ.  Being a Texas gal, I am pretty particular about it.  I want the brisket with a good smoke ring, great bark and tender to the fork, not stringy and not greasy.  See, I told you I was picky.  I want my sausage to have a ton of flavor but moist and not dried out.  I rarely order ribs because to be honest, Mr. Yapa makes the best ribs I’ve ever eaten.

We pulled off at the exit and found the restaurant about a half mile to the west.  Even though it was after lunch there was still a good crowd in the parking lot.  That’s always a good sign.  Walking towards the front of the building we got blasted.  Oh my gosh, where did all that heat come from?  It came from a HUGE outdoor area FILLED with bbq pits!  The smell was exquisite!

The Pits!

Oh the things I could do with just one of those marvelous stainless pits…  Oops, there I go again into a case a pit envy!  Once we got past the incredible heat and awesome smoke smell we walked into a room with two guys behind a long counter and behind them was an entire wall full of freshly smoked meats.  They take your order here and place the meat(s) of your choosing on your plates.

The meat guys

From there you walk into a cafeteria type line with all the sides and desserts.  Everyone we encountered was friendly, warm and gracious.  The food smelled and looked delicious and they had buttermilk pie for dessert!  What a treat that is.

Counter for sides and desserts

We both opted for a brisket/sausage combo plate and the buttermilk pie.  We also ordered one additional treat – a quail.  Not just any quail, this little guy was de-boned, stuffed with a half jalapeno, and wrapped in a thick slice of smokey bacon then cooked in one of those awesome pits.  For those of you who haven’t eaten quail, it’s a very small bird without much meat on its bones.  It’s very easy to overcook them and wind up with a dry piece of jerky like meat.  This quail was tender, juicy and had just the right amount of smoke flavor.  The bacon was crisp but not crunchy… just perfect!

The brisket was possibly the best I’ve had.  Very tender, moist and great flavor, just like I like it.  Even though I always try the sausage in a bbq joint, it rarely meets expectations.  This sausage was just right.  It had a crisp casing, moist and juicy meat with a perfect blend of seasonings and a righteous flavor.  I loved everything about this meal.  These folks really know how to use the pits and have a great sense of seasoning.  Yes, I know you are wondering about the buttermilk pie.  It was very, very good.  If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it.  It’s a lightly sweet custard type pie and does NOT taste like buttermilk (although I love buttermilk).  It’s not a really sweet dessert but was the cherry on top for this meal.

Unexpected Lunch

Unfortunately, I do not know the name of this gracious lady who waited on us but did get to chat for a minute and ask if she minded if we took a few pictures.  She was incredibly friendly (as everyone there was) and had a great smile.

Our hostess with the mostest!

As I started writing this post, I checked them on the web to make sure I had the name spelled right and nearly fell out of my chair.  These folks are famous.  They have been in numerous magazines and even Food Network.  We thought we had found an undiscovered treasure but the joke is on us!  You can’t keep good food a secret and we should have known better.  Even though I’m not breaking news here, I’m tickled to be able to share this place with you guys.

What started out as a quick stop because I was starving turned into an unexpected treat. So, if you ever find yourself heading down I-35 between Fort Worth and Austin and you see a sign for Schoepf’s in Belton, stop!  Take a moment to stop in have a bite to eat and experience what we believe is the best BBQ in Texas.  We also understand they have live music on Thursday nights too.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: culinary, Travel | 4 Comments

Austin, Texas Revisited


I just returned from a three day road trip to Austin, Texas that didn’t meet my usual road trip level of excitement.  It was a short trip that we took because Mr. Yapa  had business in Austin and as for me, I just love to get away even if it’s only a few hours from home.  I can usually find something positive to write home about whether it’s the food, the shopping, the historical sites or just some cool spot I didn’t know about before.  Being a Texas girl, this was not my first trip to Austin and having seen, eaten and done all the usual stuff, I was looking for something different.

First, we spent the evening driving out to Lake Travis.  I’ve been there before and remember it being a pretty lake and in a gorgeous setting.  Little did we know that the lake levels are down 40-50 feet.  Yeah, that’s a lot!  Where there used to be beautiful lake views were now views of water in puddles with much land showing.  We stopped at The Oasis, which bills itself as the sunset capital of Texas, for a quick snack and drink and were dumbfounded by how empty the lake looked from this iconic restaurant.  The drought in Texas was pretty bad last year but I had no inkling that things were still so rough just a few short hours south of us.  Needless to say, we missed out on the beautiful sunset over the water that we were expecting.

The next morning, after taking Mr. Yapa to work, I saw a sign downtown that pointed to the LBJ Museum and library.  I thought, “Wow.  That might be fun.”  Seriously!  I’ve never visited a presidential museum or library but I do love history and Lyndon Baines Johnson became president after the death of Kennedy.  That means everything in the museum would be dated to the 60’s.  How fun is that?  See what I mean?  Well, being the Google queen around our house, I checked them out on the web when I got back to the hotel so I would know where exactly they were.  For those of you not familiar, the University of Texas is right downtown on the north side.  The library is located at UT.   I was saddened to find out that they are actually in a remodel project and most of the exhibits are closed.  I decided it was worth giving a shot anyway.  Who knows… they said you could view the limo and the oval office.  Ok, that’s pretty cool.  And away I went.  Little did I know that when she told me those were two things you could view, she really meant those are the ONLY two things you can view.  First, the car is pretty spiffy!  All black and angular.  Back in the 60’s everything had sharp angles there weren’t any of the smooth rounded lines we see today.

LBJ’s Presidential Limo

I headed up to the 10th floor (must be missing quite a bit I thought as the floors ticked by) to check out the oval office.  I love the aqua colors, especially the desktop and the chair.  I don’t know if this room is to scale or not but it seems like it should be bigger.  After all, the oval office is where the President works.  My favorite part of the room is the coffee table with the phone drawer that pulled out.  That was so “cool tech” back then.  What you can’t see  in the pictures is the bank of four television screens.  Yep, only 4.  Well, we only had four channels back then, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS.

Oval Office (1)

Oval Office (2)

Oval Office (3)

In the room right before the oval office is a wall of memorabilia from the Whitehouse during LBJ’s presidency.  The left wall contains an assortment of gifts presented to the President and First Lady from dignitaries around the world.  The right side of the wall contains memorabilia from the ranch where LBJ lived which was referred to as the Texas Whitehouse.  It truly amazed me the beauty of some of the jewelry and especially the two ceremonial swords shown in the picture below.

Presidential Gifts

What is it they say about the “best laid plans”?  Sometimes when you travel you have to just roll with the punches.  On the morning of our last day, I spent two hours of it at Discount Tire getting a replacement for a front tire.  One of the hazards of road trips is the wear and tear on vehicles especially tires in Texas in the summer.  I really intended to go by a couple of the must see sights and share a few pics but I’ll have to save that for another quickie trip.

I do want to mention two fabulous places to eat while in Austin.  The first is perfect for lunch or even dinner.  That’s Torchy’s Tacos.  These tacos are like nothing you’ve ever eaten.  My recommendation is anything they have but I particularly like the fried avocado with Poblano sauce.  Yum!  The next place is an Austin institution, Threadgill’s.  There are two locations, North and South, and either is a pleasure to visit.  They have a long history with music as well as great food.  Heck, they still have live music in both locations.  This is reportedly where Janis Joplin got her start too.  The food is excellent, the staff friendly and the history oozes from the walls.  Try the pecan crusted chicken breast with roasted pecan gravy!  It makes my mouth water just typing about it.

Do you ever take road trips?  If not, have you ever thought about it.  I’ll be sharing more on road trips in the coming month.  We have a big one we are working on and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments


I love this blog and am so happy to share this. You all know Mexico is dear to my heart and of course, that mean Mayan culture as well.
Now it’s time to plan that Mexico vacation so you can find out what all the hooopla is about! Enjoy!!

Sylver Blaque

mayan-calendarWhat if the 2012 apocalypse scenario was all a big mistake?

What if the Mayan calendar doesn’t really end on December 21, 2012?

What if their calendar really continues?

For centuries?

😯

 

As reported by The Washington Post, a team of archaeologists in Xultun, Guatemala recently found a small room in Mayan ruins where royal scribes wrote on walls like a blackboard, keeping a running record of astronomical details for the complex Mayan calendar.

This find reportedly “destroys any notion that the Mayans predicted the end of the world in 2012.”

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Art, Music and Mojitos – Part 1


Just Arrived

I had an opportunity to attend the Fort Worth, Texas annual Main Street Arts Festival on Saturday.  Yep, that’s me wearing a sweater.  I know it was at least 70 degrees but it was chilly for me.  I did manage to lose it later on and enjoy the beautiful Spring day in Texas.

It’s been many years since I’ve had the chance to attend this festival and I cannot believe how much it has grown.  What was once a great little festival for many local artists and craftsmen has now become the largest in the Southwest and the best in Texas featuring artists from all over the nation.  By noon on Saturday the crowds were almost impassible in some of the areas.  Here is a look down Main Street.

A Look Down Main

Upper Main

This festival is so much fun!  It is equally as fun for the kids as it is for the retirees.  Did I mention how fun it was?  Just check out these kiddos!

Check out the face paint!

The three stages set at various points through the 9 block area hosted live music with enough variety to capture audiences of all ages.  The performing arts stage even had everything from jazz to Cirque Zuma Zuma.

Great music everywhere we turned!

You can check out a couple of videos here on our Youtube channel.

It was sometimes hard to get motivated into walking back into the crowds to view the artists booth when the bands just played one great song after another.  While standing in the area of this stage, we saw that local restaurants had set up shop all around the plaza area.  The variety of restaurants featured was surprising since they were selling “street food” type servings.

My favorite shot taken at the festival was of this darling family.   As we were walking by them, the mom was trying to share a crawfish (mud bug) with little one.  He had a terrible look on his face that was clearly saying “Unh uh, no way!”  I asked if they minded if I took a picture of them for this post and the second I raised the camera the little one was all smiles and quite the ham!

Cutest Family at the Festival

Did I mention Mojitos in the title?  Of course I did!  My adoring husband said “Look honey, it’s a Mojito booth!”  He would never let me miss out on a yummy, fresh concoction on a warm day.

Mojito Mamma!

All in all, this was a fabulous day trip to the historic city of Fort Worth and I can’t wait to share with you my two new favorite artists.  I had the opportunity to visit with each of them for a while even with the crazy crowds.  Check out Part 2 of this series to meet them yourself.

Happy Travels,

Edwina

Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


I love this blog almost as much as I love Mexico itself. I hope you enjoy this article and the photographs as much as I do.

TheAdventuresOfDr

It was mutually decided that we needed to escape Mexico city before we became permanent residents there.  After breakfast Santiago brought us to a café for some quick internet research before taking us to the Eastern bus terminal called TAPO.  En route we encountered a road block through the main artery Paseo de la Reforma caused by a massive protest.  After getting lost we eventually found the bus station and parted ways with the hope that we will meet up during Semana Santa.

The ride to Cholula brought us through many small villages that really gave us another glimpse of the other side of Mexico.  Remnants of buildings bunched together appeared to be either half-built or half decayed, forming small networks of communities between the vast open spaces of farmlands and the folded, crumpled mountainous terrain.  There seemed to be an endless stream of used tire shops, mechanics, and food…

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Categories: Travel | 3 Comments

Was that a Vacation?


There is a myth that travel agents vacation all the time and get to travel for free.  Really?  Somehow I must have missed the boat on that one.  The reality is that most of us do travel more than the average person but not always for pure enjoyment and rarely is anything free.  I can’t remember a vacation that didn’t turn out to be a working vacation in the end.  Even if I plan a weekend getaway or have every intention of relaxing and enjoying my surroundings, it just never turns out that way.

Fam Trips are trips we have the pleasure of being invited to by resorts, tourism boards, cruise lines or any number of other sponsored groups.  While they are often offered with free room and maybe a discount on air, they are not “vacations”.  FAM stands for Familiarization.  Let’s say I just booked a large wedding in Mexico at a 4 or 5 star resort or maybe I just completed the training to become an expert in the brand.  The resort sends me an invitation to come to Mexico to their resort and experience it first hand.  This is great, right?  When I arrive, I am shown to my room and given my itinerary.  Yes, I said itinerary for my 4 days.  You didn’t think they wanted me to come here to pamper me and treat me like a queen, did you?  Now, let’s say that this resort also has 2 sister properties within the area.  My itinerary is to take an escorted walk around the entire complex, sample the food, check out the different rooms, check out the spa, etc.  Now on day two, I get to catch a transfer early that morning to go visit one of the sister properties.  Same as the day before but with a different resort.  Back to the resort late afternoon for some free time before dinner.  I am able to take an excursion of my choice on day three in the morning, then off to the third resort for the afternoon and dinner.  Back to the resort in time for a cocktail and bed since I am flying back home the next day.  That was fun, wasn’t it?  Well, in all actuality, it IS fun for me.  My husband isn’t too crazy about me calling them vacations but I love it.  I love being able to share with you what a resort, destination or area is like from first hand experience.  Many of my recommendations come from these “vacations” because I know what the service is like, what the staff is like and have first hand knowledge of the resort.

Cruises – To obtain and maintain certification with the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) you must take “x” number of cruises of varying length as well as continuing education.  Of course, unlike a FAM trip, you are booked as a regular passenger.  This could be great, if I could just leave my “travel agent” brain at home and not drag it along with me.  I look at every thing, place and meal as something that I need to share with someone interested in a cruise.  We do get offered “seminars at sea” which are educational cruises and very much the same as FAM trips but onboard a cruise ship.

Scheduled Vacations – Yes, I do schedule a real vacation from time to time.  Whether it is a weekend road trip (love ’em)  or a week long stay in a new and exciting destination or anything in between, I always wind up thinking about you, my clients and readers.  Would you enjoy this restaurant, this view, this B&B?  “Wait Honey, I need to get a picture of that before you put your fork in it!”  or “Stop!!!  I need a picture of that for the blog.”   See what I mean?  It always turns out to be a work in progress.

The beauty is:  I love my work!  I am addicted.  My soul is restless for adventure, for travel, for new experiences.  My grandmother used to say I had “itchy feet”.  This is why the travel industry was such a perfect fit for me when I was blessed with the opportunity to change careers.  I have always dreamed of travel and it thrills my heart to know that I am helping people to realize their dreams of travel if even only for a vacation.

Happy Travels,

Edwina

Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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