Traveling Again!

That’s right. The time has come and Working Mom, Travel Dreams is traveling again! I’m traveling with my husband to Mexico for our 10th wedding anniversary. Our plan was to enjoy a week in the UK but with the travel restrictions that was not possible. So we regrouped, switched gears and now we are off to Cabo San Lucas. We are leaving the kids at home for our first kid free vacation together in 9 years. our last vacation together was our 1st wedding anniversary where I was big and pregnant and we had to book our travel to make sure we made it back before my “unable to travel internationally” date 2 days later. Yeah, there’s nothing like cutting it close. Traveling while that pregnant was not easy.

I have been to Cabo oodles of times since it’s a quick getaway from California. You can usually find long weekend package deals for $500 or less pretty easy so it’s the alternative to Vegas for many of us Californians who are not into gambling but still want to enjoy some fun in the sun. With all the restrictions in California I find people are flocking to Mexico just to get away from it all and enjoy a little bit of freedom again. I have 1 coworker and a friend who are in Cabo right now and know several people that have gone in the last month.

The airports are pretty empty still. They only had one shuttle running at SFO and the long term parking was maybe 1/4 full. It’s really different than my last trip where SFO was packed in Sept 2019. The flights were sure full despite the empty parking. Snacks and beverages were distributed a little different with everyone getting a small snack bag. I actually preferred it that way for this short flight but a bagged lunch meal for dinner could be annoying on a longer international flight.

At the resort nearly everyone we met was vaccinated. The ones who were not vaccinated had covid around the holidays and it’s still too soon for them to get vaccinated. Pretty much everyone hated the masking and wore them as little as possible. There was a lot of annoyance on things like the rule that you have to wear a mask while walking around the resort…except in the pool area. So I don’t have to wear a mask in the pool area but if I go to the snack bar, bathroom or non-swim up bar I need a mask. Swim up bar no mask. Someone brings my drink to me at the table, no mask. I take 5 steps to the bar to get a drink, I need a mask. (FYI all the bars are outdoors).

We followed the rules, no matter how crazy. It was still a lot less restrictive than California and it was FANTASTIC to see people’s faces and socialize. We got our covid tests to return home and they were negative. Even though we were fully vaccinated AND had negative covid tests our kids therapy sessions were canceled for 2 weeks when we returned because we left the country. If we stayed in the country it would have been fine. California paranoia at its best here. CDC says vaccinated people can live normal lives. But here in California we are still on house arrest and shamed for attempting normal.

Traveling again!

A couple months ago everything was closed in California. With our 10th wedding anniversary approaching this weekend we didn’t want to spend it eating a frozen pizza like last year. In California you can’t make plans farther out than a few days. Our Governor changes the rules constantly keeping us as the most restricted state in the country. So to avoid spending another anniversary with a frozen pizza with our plans get canceled the day before we opted to not only leave the state, but leave the country. You know what’s open? Mexico.

We dusted off our passports and booked an all inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas for 5 days. Yes, we understand there is a pandemic. But we are both fully vaccinated. There are also masking mandates in the enclosed areas of the resort and things are spread out more to allow for social distancing. Our resort has free covid tests prior to your departure and if you fail it you stay at the resort for free with room service to quarantine for 2 weeks. Not a bad deal.

At some point life needs to go back to normal. Living in the most restricted state for the last year has really taken its toll on all of us. There is a reason people and businesses are fleeing California to other states that are more open. I’m not saying to go lick sick people or purposely cough in others faces. But we all need to make decisions for ourselves. Everything comes with risk. It is up to us to decide what risks we are willing to take and what safety measures we want to use.

In our case, we need a break. I’m all work and no play and my husband has been locked inside in distance learning hell for a year. We are totally burnt out by the pandemic. We looked at moving to another state but it just didn’t make sense for us financially so we are sticking it out for a little while longer. Who knows…maybe if we stay locked down for another year it will be enough to take the financial hit for freedom.

Until then the countdown to Mexico is on!

Photography in the pandemic (long)

As many of you know I am a photographer. As a photographer I capture moments in time. Once I click the shutter that moment is gone. We will never get that moment back. I mention this because I recently got in an argument with another photographer on a photography forum online. The issue: she was hired to shoot a wedding last year and paid in full. The wedding is in a month and the pandemic isn’t over yet. She is on the fence about canceling or shooting it and wanted advice. I gave my advice.

The wedding was booked and paid for a year ago and is in a month. She knew it was coming up so if she was going to cancel the time to do it was 5+ months ago when the pandemic didn’t end and the lockdowns continued. At this point the couple is thankful that they still have a photographer because venues and catering are probably a nightmare for them. If the wedding gets canceled that is one thing, but they were hired to do a job and accepted payment in full for the job. They should do the job. It isn’t like things were in the beginning. We have social distancing, masking and if you get sick we now have treatments. On top of that more and more people are getting vaccinated every day. This isn’t the same situation we had in the beginning when we didn’t have any of that.

Well, apparently some people got mad about that and feel everyone should stay home and everything should be canceled until the virus is gone from our planet. Ok, look moron. It’s a virus. It will never be completely gone from the planet. Also, everything in life has risks. It’s our job to learn those risks as we grow up and learn to do things as safe as possible knowing the risks and should we end up sick or injured we know where to go for help if we need it. Staying locked in your home in fear is not living…it’s existing. There is a reason why we have prisons for criminals and put little kids in time out. Taking away freedom to live your life as you wish is punishment.

Back to photography… I’m not a fan of shooting portraits. It’s boring. I like landscapes, nature and travel. But I am good at it even if I don’t like it. In this pandemic I have found myself shooting more portraits than I ever have before. Why is this when there are so many portrait photographers out there? Well, it’s because they are terrified and believe everyone should stay in isolation. I don’t feel that way. I feel that life is still happening and once those moments are gone we will never get them back. Photographers are here to capture those moments.

I have a friend who has had 7 miscarriages and finally carried her pregnancy to term with #8 in this pandemic. She wanted to do a maternity photo shoot to capture the joy of this time especially since she does not know if they will ever be able to have another one. The problem… she can’t find a photographer in the lockdown so she contacted me. I agreed to do her photos for her. I don’t know how people can turn down someone who has been through so much sadness and wants to capture the joy of this moment. It isn’t like she can go back and do them later. We did them in a low risk way outdoors I stayed socially distanced from them except when I gave her a gift for the baby. I later took family photos after the birth for their daughters 1st Christmas.

My brother is getting married in September. I did his engagement photos and I’m terrified that their wedding photographer will cancel at the last minute and I’ll end up shooting his wedding rather than enjoying the celebration with my family. Why would I do that? Well, because I’m not going to bail on my brother when he needs me.

I’m just so tired of people using covid as an excuse. So you have sat on your butt for a year and don’t want to go back to work? Is it because you are terrified of covid? Nope. You are still living your life visiting with friends and family and going to the store and whatever else is open at the moment. Just be honest. Don’t say it isn’t safe for you to go back to work. Just say you don’t want to go back to work. It’s ok. You can NOT want to go. I don’t want to go every day but I have a family to support so I put on my shoes and go. Would I like to stay home and enjoy the 50 hours a week of free time with my family? Hell yes! I get it. I don’t want to go to work either. But I’m sure as hell not going to use covid as an excuse and say I can’t go to work because it isn’t safe while I go on about living my life outside my home. Just be honest about it. Just say you got lazy and don’t want to go back to work. Saying it isn’t safe for YOU to go to work while you expect everyone else to go to work is just saying that you are more important than everyone else out there. You are more important than all the essential workers who have kept everything running back when it really was not safe. If you accept a job and got paid for the job then you should do that job. If you want to back out you should refund your fee AND pay the difference for the last minute replacement for the job you were suppose to do if they incur additional costs due to you backing out at the last minute.

The businesses and people that are going to survive this pandemic are going to be the ones who didn’t use it as an excuse to be lazy. They are going to be the ones that paid off debt, saved up to purchase their first home, wrote that book, used the time to get fit, eat healthier, forge a better relationship with their spouse and children. There are 1000 ways to come out of the pandemic better than you went into it.

There are several truths about the past year no matter what your beliefs are on the way the pandemic is being handled where you are from.

Life is moving on.

Relationships are starting and ending.

People are getting married and divorced.

Children are being born and growing up.

People still die.

How do you feel about gatherings? Should we never celebrate again? If you are married how would you feel to have that option taken away from you? How about your children? Do you reflect back on that crying photo with Santa and smile? What if that was taken away from you? Remember the first day of kindergarten? What if that was taken away? High school or college graduation (yours or or child’s)? How about funerals? Should those go away and we no longer get to mourn? Should we visit the sick and dying or let them die alone? How about birthdays? Do we celebrate only the 1st birthday, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 50th, 75th, 100th? Only some? None at all? How about if you beat cancer and didn’t think you would see another birthday but here it is! Do you celebrate?

Do we celebrate life or let let it just go because someone might get sick? What about food poisoning? Someone might get sick. Maybe we should not eat anymore.

Dare to (travel) dream

One of my best friends lives in Australia. We talk almost every day. I know it sounds crazy but with modern technology it’s possible. She has a friend that lives in the UK that I have never met but have gotten to know in group chats with the three of us. The three of us travelers and we are all struggling with the lockdowns of our countries. So we have started to make plans for the three of us to get together on two different trips based of when our countries free us to roam again.

One of the trips we are planning is for the two of them to come here to California. I will be their lovely tour guide and we will enjoy a few days here in the wine country before starting our road trip north. Talking about where we can go and what we do will largely be figured out by what our UK friend wants to do since I live here and my Aussie friend has been here several times.

The other trip we are talking about is a meetup in the UK. No big plans there yet but it will be a shorter trip of 5-7 days. The two of them will be working some of the days leaving their evenings free. My Aussie friend has a branch there with a team she supervises so she will plan it as a work trip. We will coordinate schedules and I’ll probably play tourist while they are working and meet up with them for lunches and evenings.

I’m looking forward to us all being together. It will be interesting to see how people react to 3 women who are obviously really close but who all have very distinctly different accents. I know when my Aussie friend and I are together we get a lot of people who ask how we know each other. It really confuses people. We are 3 strong, independent women who travel well. We have all traveled the world alone. We all love food and wine and a good laugh with friends.

So even in a pandemic you can close the borders, but you can’t stop people from dreaming about their next trip.

Oh, when I go to the UK for our meetup; I will be bringing as much wine as I can for those evenings together. It’s my job. Well, that and Levi’s in their sizes. 😁

My weight loss journey – 57 weeks to go

One week down… 1 pound lost.

Not what I was hoping for, but it’s a start. Given that the last week was one of the most stressful and frustrating I have ever had at work I’ll cut myself some slack. The air quality is still not great from the fires, gyms are closed so exercise is pretty much a no-go. So that’s a bummer. But hey, it’s one less pound to loose!

The upcoming couple weeks will be interesting. I’m only working 3 days each week. I’ll be going out of town for the first time since September 2019 when I went to the UK. I’m not leaving the country, or even the state but I am going somewhere I have always wanted to see so I’m excited! It’s only a couple days but with covid even a short overnight trip in your state can be exciting!

New Beginnings

Welcome 2020! A new year, a new decade. We welcomed in 2020 with a 1920’s themed party at our home. It was a blast!

When I look back at where I was at the start of 2010 things were not that great. Here I am a decade later with almost a completely different life! So what do I have in mind for 2020? Continuing on a lot of the things I started in 2019. I’m still working on my photography and book. I’m still working on getting in shape and loosing weight. I’m finding my own inner peace and sticking with the new yoga class that I started a month ago (my ex-husband said yoga is what keeps me from snapping and killing people. He is still alive today thanks to a regular yoga practice or else I probably would have been a widow than divorced). So enough of continuing goals and chilling out… let’s hear what’s being pondered and planned for 2020!

I’m planning on teaching at an educational conference again (Hello Las Vegas!) it’s boring ultrasound stuff. But hey, free CEs are free CEs… Oh, and it’s in Vegas! (I’ll be planning on visiting a few friends while I’m there not hitting the casinos.)

My travel dreams are never out of my mind and I always have a few options brewing. In 2020 I’m trying to work out a couple trips away with the hubby. If all goes as I hope then he will be dusting off his passport in the spring for our anniversary and we will be heading to an island paradise for his birthday in the winter. The spring trip may be pushing it a bit, but I’m already starting my planning to see if I can possibly pull it off while simultaneously looking into the winter trip. (Travel for 2 takes a few more hoops to jump through than travel for 1, especially when those two people have 2 special needs kids under 10 years old that are NOT going with them.) I’m putting in for the time off on the annual vacation calendar at work so the time will be blocked. Then I’ll just have to see if I can work out all the details to make it happen or not.

That’s it so far. But then again… The year is still new.

Happy New Year!!!

San Diego here I come! part2

Well, not quite yet. But I have completed my planning! My flights, room and car are all booked. As for my plans once I arrive… I plan on getting the city pass.

I’m a big fan of the city pass. I like that I can pass up lines and go in and out of places as much as I wish. I’m planning 1/2 a day at the zoo safari and 1/2 a day at the zoo to check them out as possibilities to take the kids later. I’m also planning on the Carlsbad flower gardens. Those are my big 3. But I see on the city pass there is a lot to do so I’ll spend some time plotting where everything is, adding the hours and seeing what I can come up with to efficiently do as many things as possible on the pass. Let’s see just how many I can check off in a few days.

I believe in having a good plan, and a backup plan… just incase. I don’t get stuck when something doesn’t go as planned. I step back, regroup and go to a backup plan.

San Diego here I come! part1

As part of my day job I have continuing education that I need to keep up. It’s boring, but I have to keep it up. Prior to having kids I would travel to big educational conferences, spend the mornings in classes then enjoy the afternoons and evenings seeing the sites. Once I had kids the travel part became…complicated. Well that is all about to change as I go to my first educational conference in almost 10 years in San Diego, California.

Now it is far from my first trip there but times have changed and so have I. My plan is to head straight to the conference as soon as I land and get started. Unlike other trips, I’m renting a car for this one so I can get around a bit better and see some things.

First up, since I’m part mermaid the beach can not be ignored! I found a nice Airbnb a few blocks from the beach and I’m an early riser so expect some nice sunrise photos while I enjoy a nice walk with my bagels with cream cheese and coffee for breakfast as I watch the sun rise. I figure I’ll do that…yeah, every day. 😎

Up next the Wild Animal Park can not be skipped. I plan on an afternoon there photographing the animals and scouting it out to see if it’s an option to take the kids to. While my younger son loves animals and does well in new places my older son does not. So I’ll be looking to see if it’s an option. He doesn’t do well with loud or crowds but usually does ok outside. Welcome to my world living with Autism.

The only other thing I know I want to do is to see the flower fields. For my other afternoons I’ll make it up as I go along.

The historic gas lamp district will end up being one of my evenings dinner and entertainment. I’m sure another will be somewhere on the beach (see part mermaid above).

What to do

The first time I go somewhere I always see whatever the big thing(s) are in that area. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I don’t think anyone should go somewhere and NOT see the iconic sites of that area. You can usually find a hop on hop off bus or a day tour that will take you to all the “must see” places in 1 day or less.

Up next after my “must see” items I look to see if any holidays will be celebrated while I’m there. Participating in the local celebrations is an awesome way to remember your trip and celebrate with the locals!

I’m also in for food and shopping! If there is a local dish or food they are known for (no matter how strange) I want to try it. It may only be one bite, but I’ll try it. If there is an amazing or iconic market, I want to shop there. Food and shopping don’t need to be a high priority, I’ll eat at some point but I want to know what the area is known for so if I see it I can get it while I’m out and about. For the shopping, I’ll usually do that on a free afternoon or evening.

The next thing I do is look for the secondary things I want to see or do. These are not the iconic “must see” things for the area but things I’m interested in. I scuba dive so if I’m somewhere that it’s an option I try to fit it in at least one day of my trip. I’m also a sucker for priceless jewels, butterfly sanctuaries, aquariums, old churches, Castles, ancient temples and ruins. I was an art minor in college so if there is important pieces of art in an area or artists I’m interested in I try to fit seeing those.

Part of my secondary things to do I look for an unusual tour. They have always been a highlight of my trip and very interesting. Some examples of things I have done in the past a flashlight Jack the Ripper tour of London and a Haunted tour of Sydney in a hearse. I did an erotic tour of different kinds of brothels and sex shops and learned all about the sex worker industry that was quite enlightening. I did a symbolism tour of an old graveyard. Some destinations have them, some don’t. But I have learned the quirky tours are usually a blast so if there’s one available, I try to fit it in.

The last thing is a bit of pampering. I try to book this at the end of my trip or after a long day. There are day spas and salons all over the world waiting to pamper you. It may be a mani-pedi, facial or massage a little pampering is nice. If there is something unique to the area I try to give it a try.

My only piece of advice is: Don’t pre-plan every day, every minute. Try to book one thing a day so you have time to do other things you didn’t know about until you were there. I usually book a tour or activity in the morning leaving my afternoons and/or evenings free. If I have an evening activity that I want to do I make sure that the next day is not an early morning (like diving) and if I have a morning tour that day it needs to end by lunch so I have the whole afternoon free before my evening out.

One Step Closer…

Every time I start booking a trip I get excited.  I like to pay for as much as possible up front so my credit card is empty and most of my trip is paid for before I ever set foot on the plane.  A few days ago I started booking my solo trip to the UK in the fall.  My air is booked and my trip to Stonehenge.  It is all becoming real.

I have made a general plan.  I’ll fly into London and spend a day there, then I’ll head to Stonehenge the next day Followed by another day in London before I leave for Scotland where I will spend the rest of my trip. I have a list of things I want to do and see and with my limited time I am going to try to see as much as I can.

But for now, my air is booked. I have a date and time that I leave and a date and time I return.  Now its turning from a dream to a reality.