A Travellerspoint blog

Year of the Dog and the Butterfly

George reporting...

all seasons in one day
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We were both born in the Chinese 'Year of the Horse'.

So why don't we call the year of our "rebirth" the 'Year of the Dog and Butterfly'?

See the dog and butterfly
Up in the air he likes to fly
Dog and butterfly
Below she had to try
She roll back down to the warm soft ground, laughing
She don't know why, she don't know why
Dog and butterfly...

https://youtu.be/Zv69q_oeDOk -Grab this link to hear the son.

Ann Wilson wrote the words to “Dog and Butterfly” but it was her Sheepdog that inspired the lyrics. Ann watched intently from her bedroom window as her Sheepdog chased a butterfly around the yard. “As Ann watched her dog it struck her as symbolic as to how life can be,” explains Nancy. “When you’re an earthbound creature we’re always jumping and reaching for things we can never really catch, but you try anyway. And that’s the point of the song, we’re always trying to grab at something higher.” ~ Nancy Wilson

Pins, Seaglass and Shells from our Travels

We spent nearly an entire year constantly traveling, chasing dreams, exploring every seashore and hidden city alley or garden that we happened upon. You would need to talk to each one of us to find out what we each drew from this incredible experience. And you could certainly reread our past blog posts to see where our minds were at any particular point in the year.
For myself, I've come to see this past year as an opportunity to learn more about the world and myself. Everything has a good/bad element to it but the universal concept of good/bad has certainly evolved in my mind. I learned that when a seemingly "bad" thing happens to us, it actually just turns out to be just a better or "good" thing later on. As an example, I lost a filing in my tooth while on a Caribbean cruise and was desperate to find a dentist. This "bad' event eventually led us to finding a good home and community in the Yucatan city of Merida. After a year of the "bad turning into good' thing, I actually have a mindset that views a bad incident as a gateway to some kind of new, unexpected exciting opportunity. I hope that mindset sticks with me from now on.
I also learned that the world is a very big place and that there are ALOT of people in it. The Western world is packed with people from all sorts of backgrounds and dreams. Much of the news we saw on TV or read on the paper had something to do with 'masses of people' going here or there.
I imagine that with each new war, or new environmental calamity, the mass migrations of people from one place to another will only continue to get greater and greater. There is also the migration of people like me and Andrea who are looking for a new, better home that speaks to our shared sense of community and culture. Although we were not forced out by war or calamity, we felt our old home was becoming mired in a "poverty of plenty"...plenty of money and things but more impoverished in the areas that really matter.

The issues of 'borders' and 'migrations' seem much more complex and of interest to me and I hope the leaders in the world will work hard to find the best answers to these growing issues. History has shown a pattern of tragic failure but I'm hopeful that the willpower of good, smart people will win out over the lazy and ignorant.

It was the willpower of good, smart people that enacted what is known as "America's Greatest Idea".

It's amazing (and a bit sad) to think that over 100 years ago, American politicians fought to save and preserve the natural beauty that exists throughout the continental U.S. The legendary John Muir was able to convince President Theodore Roosevelt that the U.S. Govt needed to insure that places like Yosemite and Yellowstone were protected by the capitalistic forces that sought to mine and harvest the land. Even more amazing, some of the richest Americans believed that America's natural heritage should be preserved for all time and future generations. People like the Rockefellers (and others) spent their fortunes purchasing private lands so that they can become parks for the public to enjoy.

If there is a "culture" in America, it's mostly an outdoorsy one. People from "sea to shining sea" have access to some of the most beautiful scenery
in the world. States like Wyoming, strongly advocate a balanced relationship between nature, people and resources.
Driving across the country, not once but twice, we were able to see people from all walks of life enjoy the beaches, parks, lakes and mountains. We
saw that the roads into the wilderness and deserts were well kept and included convenient service stops and viewpoints that enable you to just
drive, stop and take in the amazing play between land and sky.
Important areas like Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Niagara Falls and other tourist meccas continue to grow and expand to become places
of wonder and learning. At first, we found the crowded, kitschy aspects to the tourist area a bit unsightly but have come to learn that they are necessary evil in order to continue to promote the importance of caring for our natural treasures.

This is a time when kids are more focused on what they see on their e-screens, the job of promoting these natural wonders may become harder and harder and there is a good chance that whole new generations may come to view natural parks as a costly, unnecessary drain on public taxes. But I get the impression that once a young child gets a little exposure to real, raw nature, they could develop a lifelong appreciation for it. However, we all would benefit from the urge to want to build a home right up to the forest or on a mountain too.
Buckhorn National Park, one of the oldest parks, is still as pristine as it was 100 years ago and reveals more of what that part of America once looked like. In Lake Tahoe, private development continues to render the area a shadow of its former, natural self.

Beyond the U.S., other countries are relying more and more on the 'value' that their natural treasures bring. This translates into more foreign visitors crisscrossing the globe in search of wondrous, natural beauty. It also means the potential for erosion (both naturally and culturally) for
areas that have only known one way-of-life or one religion. Again, it will take the will of good people to help shepherd these changes for the good of all. I think most of the violent reactions we see on the news is in direct relation to these ongoing changes.

The Heart as a Collection of Seaglass

I'm not sure when I decided to view my heart like some object built entirely of seaglass, but when I did, it suddenly made sense to start giving it away. So I went around dropping pieces of it here and there, handing it to special people I know but also to helpful strangers I met along the way as well. The tormenting, inner poet in me tells me I should want to eventually leave this earth without a single piece of heart left in my body. So I need to take a piece out now and then and give it away in the hopes that it will energize and bring hope, love and good fortune to others. Lest someone doesn't want it, they can always throw it back into the sea to tumble for a few centuries until it finds its way to a new, lucky palm. And so life continues and the world turns...
It's also amazing to me how the heart and mind perceive the world. I think I wept twice on this journey, first when I learned Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) died, and when I was in Auschwitz. I had never met Mr. Nimoy in person nor been directly affected by the horrors of the death camps yet I was profoundly moved. Again the poet in me was wrenched at the thought of so many innocent lives destroyed by the hand of man and that, even today, its potential to happen again is unnerving to say the least.

Mr. Nimoy's death required a bit more reflection and understanding. I knew that I wasn't really weeping for Leonard Nimoy the person since I did not know him personally. I was emotional because of the relationship my mind had with the character Spock he played in Star Trek. I believe my mind felt Spock to be so real, and so a part of me, that it attached a part of my heart to him. I realized that everything the character Spock believed in I too believed in. It was as if I had lost the great teacher of life who taught me how to balance emotion with thought. Spock, as your average person would think, was just a 'fantasy' character on some goofy sci-fi program made for the geek set. But, somehow, my mind made him a most important person in my life and I grieved appropriately. It's astonishing the way the mind moves the heart....
In conclusion, think of this simple travel blog as another piece of seaglass I've given to you...something shiny and colorful you've decided to look at while scouring the electronic-beach known as the Internet. Thank you for taking to pluck a piece of me from the sandy shore. Maybe you decide to put it in your pocket for keeping, or maybe you decide to throw me back in the water for a little more tumbling. Either way, it's all good because my hope is that, in the brief moment you held me in your hand, you forgot everything and smiled for a moment and forgot all your worries.

So what is a 'Warrior of Aliveness'?
It is one who leaves behind all his/her heart for all time.

“You are going on a strange journey this time, my friend. I don't envy you. You'll have a hard time keeping your heart light and simple in the midst of this crowd of madmen. Instead of the music of the wind among the spruce-tops and the tinkling of the waterfalls, your ears will be filled with the oaths and groans of these poor, deluded, self-burdened men. Keep close to Nature's heart, yourself; and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean from the earth-stains of this sordid, gold-seeking crowd in God's pure air. It will help you in your efforts to bring to these men something better than gold. Don't lose your freedom and your love of the Earth as God made it.”
-John Muir

This post ends another chapter in our lives. Next, we move on to the Yucatan peninsula into our winter house in Merida. We will then write a new blog describing what it is like to create a home there and its challenges and victories. Warriors of Aliveness" Merida Chapter now online!

Thank you again for watching over us and sharing in this life-changing experience. Until next time, keep on seeking the light.


Some Factoids:

  1. of countries visited = 16
  2. of continents = 3
  3. of kilometers/miles = 54158 km / 33654 miles
  4. of times driven across the U.S. = 2
  5. of cruises =2
  6. of homes bought = 1
Northern most point = Iceland
Southern most point = Barbados
Western most point = California Beaches
Eastern most point = Istanbul, Turkey

Posted by woa 11:45 Comments (0)

My Favorite Moments


88 °F
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Nearly one year since we sold our house, our possessions, and quit my job to travel; I managed to lose 15 pounds, learn a lot, and have grown and changed for the better (I hope).

I acknowledge and offer deep gratitude to George for ALL the hard work he did researching, planning, and arranging all these months to make this trip of a lifetime possible and successful! Thank you husband.

Though George and I shared nearly every single day together, we obviously have different perceptions and personal experiences this past year.
I've been thinking about what has affected me the most for this conclusion travel post of my own.


We both have appreciated the opportunities to see friends and family in person (and some on Skype) this year.
We both loved visiting and hiking various National Parks.
But these are the moments and experiences that stand out the most for me, in somewhat chronological order:
- Experiencing Monument Valley in AZ

- The turquoise color of the Caribbean sea

- Going on a Pirate ship and snorkeling in Barbados

- Cancun, Chichen Itza and our first cenote 'Ik Kil', and MERIDA!
nye_maria_a2.jpg nye_santalucia_dinner.jpg
Oh Merida, you changed our lives. I'm beyond grateful that we met the amazing Maria, and for being welcomed into a community of the best people who make us feel like family. We can't wait to see you all soon.

- Iceland made a bigger impression on me that I expected, in a good way.
- The Mediterranean Cruise was an added bonus because it included destinations in Greece and Turkey, and other cities in Italy and France we had never been to.
- Hiking along the cliffs in Cadequez.
- Feeling more safe in Europe that I do in the states sometimes
- I've written this before, but I enjoyed discovering all the new cities in Europe that we had not planned on visiting originally.
- Niagara Falls was never on my bucket list, and there we were.

Also, the unexpected blessings of good timing, such as:

-Meeting my Aunts Mildred and Dorothy for lunch in Baltimore on the day of my Aunt Mildred's 94th birthday (which I didn't know prior)!
-Arriving in Milan for one night and learning of the World's Fair - and actually going to it.
-Arriving in Turin and learning of the Holy Shroud on rare display - and going to see it.
-Arriving in Jamestown NY, to see the Lucy & Desi Museum, unbeknownst to us, on Lucille Ball's birthday
-Meeting Maria while looking for a dentist in Merida.
-Traveling to Europe while the Euro was cheaper.
-Driving through the U.S when the gas prices were low.

I've learned:
- I don't really need a lot of material stuff, but I still like to spend money on books/e-books. I can definitely get by with fewer clothes and shoes though.
- It's pretty simple to get exercise in most days with just a little outdoor space. I did sets of various circuits to work strength and cardio. (i.e. jumping jacks, burpies, walking lunges, jump squats, push ups, planks...) I also did yoga on small floor spaces as often as possible. I discovered Adriene's awesome free yoga videos.
- To lessen my grip on irrational thoughts and worries sooner and get on with the day. (This takes constant self awareness and will probably be something I always work on) I did not want to miss being present in each and every day, and I am convinced that both prayer and yoga go a long way!

I still hope to someday travel to South America, Australia, and New Zealand in the future. But now, I really look forward to staying put for a while once we get to Merida. This year has taught me that I do not have a desire to be a digital nomad, but I still agree with my original desire to live in two different places during the year. For now this means Merida, and possibly somewhere on the East Coast (Europe still sounds better to us though down the line).

I look forward to using our resourcefulness (that we learned in Oakland) to furnish our Merida house. I look forward to having guests and trying out Airbnb with our casita. I look forward to finding new ways to generate income and finding/trying new avenues of work. I'm sure there will be more thoughts and more insights down the road, but this blog is coming to and end. I will continue writing and sharing once we create a new blog to 'house' our next chapter.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read, and to comment. We always enjoy hearing from you. If any post we wrote was helpful or encouraging in any way, I am honored.

Posted by woa 10:36 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Short and sweet


sunny 82 °F
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We drove from the Bay Area to San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast. Then it was on to Los Angeles the next day.
It's good to see my family. We went out for a delicious Mexican dinner with my folks at La Choza, which has great food, and the nicest owners.


Now we are resting, and taking care of odds and ends, this and that, these and those ...... including loaning our car to our beautiful niece to use during her senior year.


p.s. George is still working on his post.

Posted by woa 17:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

S.F. one year later


sunny 80 °F
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Last September, after we sold everything and left Oakland, we first spent time with Sylvia, Bill and their adorable doggy Elmo, before leaving the Bay Area. Almost one year later, we arrived back in the Bay Area and had the best reunion with them. We celebrated the end of our long journey with delicious meals, stories, laughs and champagne. It was a perfect way to mark the end of this chapter, with those we love and who love us. (Thanks again for EVERYTHING!)

Spasso_gasb2.jpg Elmo_sparky.jpg

To be honest, having lived in both Oakland and San Francisco between 1994 - 2014, I am convinced it was the absolute right decision for us to leave the Bay Area. On Monday, I made a trip alone into San Francisco to run some errands and after a couple of hours, I was ready to leave the city. The only connection I feel is to people - the family and the special friends who still live here.

Our next stop is southern CA to see more family, and prepare for fall and winter in Mexico. Since we don't plan on living in Mexico full-time, I am also looking forward to finding a new-second-home ... possibly on the East Coast for spring and summer. Who knows where the winds will blow?

George will soon write a final post to close out this travel blog. Stay tuned!

Posted by woa 20:37 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A Cocktail and a Gunfight


sunny 81 °F
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Five years ago, I had been first exposed to the good storytelling from the TV show 'Bonanza'. Later, on a trip to Lake Tahoe, we went to Virginia City, Nevada (the town from Bonanza) for a night.


As this cross-country road trip is coming to an end, we decided to revisit Virginia City today on our drive through Nevada. It's such a charming town with its original buildings and history. As we strolled the wood plank sidewalks, a cowboy invited us to the 'Gunfight' at 1pm.

The ticket to the show includes a dollar off a drink at the Washoe Club across the street, which happens to be where we got engaged. We got a cocktail and found a seat on the bleachers. The Gunfight was a half hour of humor, audience participation, and shootouts. We both had a great time.


We even took selfies with the actors.

Here are few pics from this afternoon, including a Hoss Cartwright sighting.

We officially crossed into California....and will be resting in Lake Tahoe over the weekend before heading to the warmth of sister Sylvia.


p.s. Happy 55th Anniversary Mom & Dad! xoxo

p.p.s As I write this blog, the movie 'Casablanca' is on the TV. A scene in the casino shows Rick 'Humphrey Bogart) helping a young couple out by letting them win at Roulette. The ball falls on #22, the very same lucky number in the pic with George above. Time to head to the casino!

Posted by woa 18:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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