Global Discovery Vacations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sunset on the beach

 

Returning from vacation can be stressful. Re-entry into the regular routine slow for me.

I keep dreaming of the beautiful beach we saw in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was our first trip there, it definitely won’t be our last.

We stayed at the Plantation Resort, part of Global Discovery Vacations. I call it a travel club. The way it works is you pay a one time fee up front to join, then a small yearly fee.

We get two weeks a year at any resort they are affiliated with, anywhere in the world for $189.00 per week for a one bedroom suite with kitchen, living room, laundry, etc.

You can upgrade to a 2 or 3 bedroom if you choose, but different rates do apply.

It has been well worth it to us.

We have taken several vacations in the last two years and they have been great.

The facilities are clean, quiet, attractive and very serviceable.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the inside of them, my mind is always on the view.

pool view

I actually felt sorry for the folks back home in the subzero temperatures. It wasn’t that warm while we were in the Gulf area, but even a cold day at the beach is warmer than a subzero day back home.

Eye candy for the soul.

The resort had several pools both indoors and out. We pretty much had the entire place to ourselves.

There were a few other midwesterner’s around during the off season, but not many.

The off season is Jan-Feb. Peak season begins in March and runs through December.

balcony view

We found out that our room with this stellar view rents for more than $300.oo per night during peak times.

Wow!

star fish

While we were strolling on the beach, we found lots of these little star fishes had washed up on shore during the night. Isn’t it just adorable?

driftwood

The pieces of driftwood on the shore were in all shapes and sizes. This log was huge, I would have loved to haul it home and put it in the garden.

The white sand almost looks like snow doesn’t it?

Beautiful.

broken shells

Because of the cold temps and rough seas, there were lots of shells on the beach. Many of them were broken, but that doesn’t deter me.

I see great beauty in brokenness.

ferris wheel

On one of the colder days, we amused ourselves at the local shopping mall. The Wharf is a great spot with lots of unique shops and restaurants.

driftwood pelican

This adorable coffee shop specializes in beach art and coffee.

It has become my most favorite place in the entire world.

This pelican was made out of driftwood. If I could have figured out how to cram it into my suitcase, I would have brought it home with me.

It is masterpiece in my book.

brick wall

Another day we visited Fort Morgan, a civil war era fort on the Bay of Mobile.

I love historic spots like this.

The fort is built into the ground at the tip of the bay, making it is almost invisible from the sea. There is another fort across the bay on the other side. Next trip, we will explore that one as well.

This was the site of a number of important sea battles during the civil war. They also have an interesting museum and gift shop.

I love how the inside wall is aged and mossy.

fortress

Other parts of the fort are just as interesting. The salty sea air makes a layer of white crust on the aging bricks.

Can you imagine this place filled with soldiers and cannons?

old house

This beautiful house sits at the end of fort. It was once the command center for the entire place.

I love the big porch and the unique windows.

training plane

 

Since the weather was so cool, we didn’t really spend a lot of time on the beach. We really enjoyed our day trip to Pensacola, FL which was about 30 minutes away.

We spent the entire day the National Naval Aviation Museum.

We love air planes, and have a long history with pilots in our family.

 

blue angels

We took in a couple of flight simulations, and even an IMAX movie about the Blue Angels while we were there. They are so impressive to see up close.

uss enterprise2

My favorite plane had to be the USS Enterprise.

I knew the Enterprise existed, I knew it!

uss enterprise

Even the propeller was massive.

the hot shop

Nearby Orange Beach is the home of this glass blowing workshop called The Hot Spot.

You can watch them make glass, or even take a class and try it yourself.

Very impressive.

Glass flowers

Aren’t these glass flowers just beautiful?

st. louis arch

The trip home was long and snowy, we stopped briefly at the St. Louis Arch on the way.

That blob on the photo is the sun showing through the clouds just before it snowed.

It snowed a lot.

the arch

The Arch is very impressive up close. If you are brave and not claustrophobic, you can go up in the elevator to the top.

I was not so brave.

old court house

Across the park sits the Old Courthouse. I was surprised how similar it is to the court house we have here at home.

So much to discover!

I hope you have enjoyed the tour.

Are you planning a spring vacation?

Where to?

 

Viennese Coffee

 

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It’s been a lovely holiday week. We have had a “stay-cation”, not going too far from home but instead enjoying our time in luxurious ways. Such as sleeping in late, staying up late, napping, and indulging in all sorts of fantastic holiday treats and spending quality time with family.

It seems like days since I had a really good cup of coffee, and today I decided to spend the extra time to make this special Viennese Coffee. I was listening to the public radio station yesterday, and they were playing the most beautiful waltzes straight from the Vienna Symphony by Johann Strauss. Apparently, special music is a New Year’s Day tradition in Vienna. I love these tunes and have frequently played them with our local symphony. There is nothing more relaxing than listening to classical music.  Hearing them being played inspired me to do some research on Vienna and their traditions. The Coffee House is a very important part of culture there, coffees are served with a glass of water on the side and it’s not unusual for people to linger for long periods of time at the local coffee house reading the newspaper, talking, writing, listening to poetry readings or even listening to live musical entertainment.

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? I encourage you to spend the last day or two of your holiday week enjoying these simple pleasures.

Here’s how to make the best cup of Viennese Coffee you have ever had:

Ingredients you will need:

3 cups brewed dark roast coffee

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup whipping cream

Dash of Nutmeg

Whip 3/4 cup of the cream until stiff peaks form. Add remaining 1/4 cup of cream to a small sauce pan along with the orange juice, honey and chocolate chips. Stir over medium heat until melted and combined. Add the coffee and heat until warm. Pour into warm cups (makes 4 servings) and add more whip cream on top and a dash of nutmeg.

Our 14 year old son loves the symphony, we added visiting Vienna during the holiday season to our bucket list for 2015. Do you have a bucket list for this year?

Relax and enjoy!

Tales of a Haven Newbie

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It’s late and I can’t sleep. I should be in bed, recovering from my trip to the Haven Conference in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia.

I was officially a Haven “Newbie” since this was my first year attending the conference. It was amazing. It was dazzling, and I have never been so terrified in my life.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

I drove for two days to get there. Do you know the things that go through your mind when you are under the spell of highway hypnosis?

I was sure they would not let me in.

I was sure I would be the only new person there.

I was sure it was going to be a terrible waste of time and money.

I was afraid my kids would be wearing dirty clothes while I was gone.

Or that they would be living on junk food.

Or that the world would end without me being at home to save it.

But, none of those things happened.

I walked into the conference dragging my shabby old luggage past the valet parking, and was immediately captivated by the beautiful hotel.

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This stunning display of furniture by Ballard Designs met me at the door.

I began to feel faint at the sight of it.

I felt completely of my league.

I was a little fish in a BIG sea.

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I waited in line to check in.

I am not good at waiting. It is very difficult for me. I was so nervous I almost threw up standing in line at the counter.

I was certain the girl at the counter would know how many page views my blog gets per month. Wasn’t it tattooed on my forehead? 

She would smile sympathetically at me, knowing I didn’t really belong there, and instead of giving me a room key, she would hand me the keys to a broom closet down the hall.

But, that didn’t happen either.

This is a true story.

The imagination is a powerful thing when you are terrified.

Upon checking in, I was handed this beautiful swag bag. It was full of complemetary goodies from dozens of vendors who were so happy that we were there.

I almost passed out with shock that I actually got a room key and a bag of great free stuff.

Seriously.

I really thought I would have to get into the car and drive home again.

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After I found my room, it was time to explore the hotel.

The garden was fantastic.

It was full of beautiful southern plants we just don’t see much of here in Wisconsin.

I wanted to take this beautiful Sycamore tree home with me.

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The garden was also full of incredible water features. I thought died and went to heaven.

Stunning.

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Later, they served cocktails and horderves and had music in the garden while we all got to know each other.

It was magical.

Just like magic, all of us “Newbies” got to know each other.

I met my room mate and so many other sweet people.

I could even eat and drink without having butterflies in my stomach.

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The next day we visited the hall of vendors and sponsors. There were so many of them.

They all had such wonderful displays.

I loved these teal chairs from Ballard Designs.

I decided I need to sell everything I own and buy one or my life won’t be complete.

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These fabrics from the Online Fabric Store were made into pillows!

Ooh, la la!

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I found out GMC sponsored a group of bloggers to go to the 100 Mile Long Yard Sale and purchase items to decorate a home for Habitat for Humanity.

How cool is that?

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On to the classes! I had a great time learning to use Ryobi powers tools. I even won an Air Strike stapler!

I can’t wait to use it!

Everyone was super nice and helpful, we all were snapping pictures right and left.

You can see lots more fun shots of the action on Instagram with the hashtag #havenconf.

It was a blast and I learned so much!

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The last night, there was a fabulous good bye party.

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There were chocolate fountains and champaign…..

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there was cheese, and wine…….

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there were orchids and candles on the tables.

We ate and drank and danced until the wee hours of the morning.

We talked about 80’s music, blogging, kids, and husbands. We had so much in common!

Those of us that started out as Haven Newbies became Haven Mavens!

Everyone was so sweet and fun, I can’t imagine why I was so nervous in the beginning!

I really need to get out more!

I can’t wait to go back again next year!

Photo Challenge: Day 12 Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunset

I am probably one of the minority of people who don’t have a huge collection of sunset photos stored on their hard drive.  It’s the rainy spring season here in the mid-west and we haven’t seen much of the sun lately. When we do see it, it’s short lived, and by night fall the clouds have rolled in.

Half the time, I don’t make it to night fall anyway. I find I am usually exhausted on the couch and wouldn’t possibly have the energy to go out and photograph a sunset even if there was one.

However, when we were on vacation, there were lots of sunsets.

I had lots of energy to sit on the beach, or walk among the waves enjoying the view.

Amazing how that works.

I am struggling with lots of things right now. Our plans to purchase a home have changed, and we are devestated.

We are all packed up and have no place to go.

It’s an awful feeling, not knowing where your going or when you will get there. I don’t do well with uncertainty.

It’s really a faith struggle, isn’t it? Do you trust God to lead you the way you should go, or not?

It’s easy to think yes, but not so easy to feel it. It’s hard when you can’t see where He is leading you.

I would give just about anything to be walking on a warm beach, enjoying the sunset and completely forget all our problems for a little while.

Why is it that God seems closer on a beach? Where do you feel closest to God?

To me, it seems easier to trust and have faith with a glorious sunset. I guess it reminds me of a rainbow and all God’s promises.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!

Enjoy the sunset today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What I Wore to the Midwestern Blogger Meet-up

 

 

 

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I had so much fun today at the Midwestern Blogger Meet-up! The big event took place in Lisle, Illinois and was put together by Jennifer Rizzo.  If you haven’t read Jennifer’s blog, you should hop on over and check it out. She’s very talented and as sweet as sunshine.

  I was equally charmed by her selection of location for the event: inside an old train depot at a local historical museum.

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I was able to have some time to explore this quaint museum before the festivities began, I love old buildings.

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The train depot was amazing, it was built in 1881. I am into train depots lately. And trains.

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The depot had beautiful architectural features.

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The inside of the depot was every bit as charming as the outside. Did you know they used to have separate waiting rooms for the men and women? Neither did I.

I love the big graphic on the wall. I wanted to take it home with me.

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My great grandfather had a brass hanging lamp just like this one. So charming.

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Great grandpa also had a clock just like this.  I loved the train bulletin chalkboard on the wall.

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The corners of the depot were full of other old treasures like wooden barrels and these lovely trunks and boxes.  The walls in this room were beautiful unfinished wide boards.

I loved how rustic they look.

It was the perfect place for a bunch of bloggers to meet up.

We all took tons of pictures. You can see why.

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Jennifer put together this lovely table of refreshments for us all. In between chatting about blogging, social media, SEO’s, websites and taking pictures, we sipped coffee, chewed on brownies and complete strangers became friends.

It is amazing what food can do.

Everyone was so sweet and friendly, and it was so nice to put faces with blog names. I can’t wait to go back again next year.

It was a great day!

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By the way, this is day #2 of my Photography Challenge (see yesterday’s post for more details here). 

Todays’ assignment,  photograph “what you wore”.  I interpreted this to mean “what I wore to the blogger meet-up”. 

I wore my favorite butterfly necklace.

See you tomorrow!