Category Archives: Travel and Leisure

Summer Road Trip: Hidden Gems in Southern California

Summer is the perfect time for gorgeous scenic drives and road trips. With that in mind, join our blog hop for virtual road trips, weekend getaways, and day trips along with some insider tips for visiting exciting places in North America as far away as Australia.

I’m excited to share some hidden gems in my neck of the woods, Southern California.  Join me, then pop about the globe for more inspiring road trip ideas from other great bloggers, who are linked at the bottom of this page.

 

(By the way, I actually live in the California desert which I do NOT recommend visiting during the summer months. It is 121 degrees as I write this blog. No, I’m not kidding – or exaggerating. Unless you like feeling your eyes burn as if someone has a blow dryer an inch from your face and burning your hands on the steering wheel, save a trip to Palm Springs for the winter when you’re buried in snow and we’re having perfectly fabulous weather.)

During the summer months here in Southern California, many tourists flock to well-known destinations like San Diego, Disneyland, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. These are all great places to visit, but if you’re looking for somewhere different that’s a bit off the radar, check out the following incredible destinations:

The Channell Islands

My husband and I have lived in California most our lives, but somehow missed these spectacular islands that are classified as one of the U.S. National Parks. After seeing some stunning photos on the Internet, we took a short boat ride to Anacapa Island from Oxnard as part of a weekend anniversary trip.

If you decide to go, be prepared and bring supplies. This trip is for adventurous people in good physical shape. You will need to climb 157 stairs to the top of this rugged little island where there is no food, services, water, or flushing toilets. Now, I HATE outhouses, but I’m telling you – the views of the rocky shoreline, massive cliffs, and jagged peaks were worth it. You can easily hike around the rim of the island in just hours with Inspiration Point a grand reward for your efforts.

We visited in June when bursts of bright wildflowers covered the small island and thousands of adorable baby sea gulls were to be found around every corner. Just beware of their protective mamas who will swoop at your head if you get too close.

We returned a couple of years later and visited the larger Santa Cruz Island for an exciting kayak tour of the historic sea caves. On the boat ride there we saw a whale and two large schools of dolphins. The waters can be rough at certain points, but the caves were amazing. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Some people consider these islands desolate, but if you have an adventurous spirit and love nature, the Channell Islands are considered the Galápagos of North America.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens 

This is yet another stunning place that we failed to visit for decades. Located in Pasadena, the magnificent estate is home to more than a dozen spectacular gardens spread across 120 acres. Hard to say which garden is the most dazzling, but the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the California Garden are a few of my favorites.

We didn’t even get a chance to check out the art galleries. The Huntington Art Gallery, houses 18th- and 19th-century British paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, and includes the famous Blue Boy. And to my shame as a writer, we did not visit The Huntington Library itself, one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States.

Next time.

Ventura County Wine Trail

Napa may get all the attention as wine country in California, but my husband and I enjoyed sipping our way through the coastal rolling hills near the seaside town of Ventura. We visited two of the nearly 20 wineries and tasting rooms.

You can book one of the many wine tours offered. However, we decided to get a map and explore on our own. Beginning in Ventura at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 101, we drove up Highway 33 toward Ojai.

Surprises await on this somewhat lonely but charming road – from the “USA’s Smallest Post Office” to the last place anyone saw James Dean alive. Our favorite find was Old Creek Winery which felt like returning to a simpler place and time where friendly folk and dogs welcomed us. We enjoyed our purchased bottle of wine and a picnic outside on tables enjoying the Americana view.

By the way, both Ojai and Ventura are worthwhile stops with charming inns, luxurious spas, and bed & breakfasts along with a wide array of outdoor activities. In the summer time, the Ventura Harbor Village is a hubbub of activity with festivals and live music on the weekends.

Laguna Beach

This charming beach town is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. With over 20 different scenic coves, this beach area offers everything from surfing, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, and whale watching excursions.

Just beware, the surf can be rough in places. As a teenager, I decided to body surf despite the churning waters and wiped out on a massive wave (think Beach Boys’ song: Heheheheheheee wipe oooout!). You can read more about that delightful experience here. Actually, I blame the Beach Boys for this entire mishap since they went and romanticized this whole surfer chick thing with songs I grew up on like Surfer Girl. SO their fault.

However, the scenery can’t be beat. Add ultra-chic restaurants and shops and one-of-a-kind art galleries and you get the picture. There’s even a Baby Boomer Club with Saturday Night dances. Every summer, they host the Laguna Woodstock where baby boomers party like its 1969.

Heisler Park is a good place to start, located just north of the main beach, with an easy half-mile stroll along a paved path with spectacular views of the coastline and the soothing sound of crashing waves. You can take one of the paths to the beaches and tide pools. Benches, picnic tables, and barbecues abound where you can enjoy the magnificent views. Hubby and I had a picnic on one of the grass areas and it was perfect!

Treasure Island Park is another great spot, located on the grounds of the five-star Montage Laguna Beach, where the truly rich stay. Exquisitely landscaped, several lookout benches line the easy-to-walk winding path. Stairways and ramps lead you down to the beach, where you can walk through a beautiful rock archway during low tide, find a spot in the sand for sunbathing, and a large tide pool. In addition, there is plenty of grass areas for a picnic. I’d suggest bringing some wine and cheese to catch a romantic sunset.

Big Bear Lake

I live in the desert, so nearby Big Bear is a great mountain escape with its gorgeous lake and pristine forests. Boating, fishing, and hiking are just some of the activities in this small, laid-back village.

Last summer, my husband and I cycled around the lake, enjoyed a picnic, zipped down an alpine slide, drove go-karts with speeds up to 30 m.p.h., and took a ride on the scenic sky chair for terrific views. After watching people take the chair lifts to mountain bike down the trails, we put this on our to-do list for next time.

For the adventurous at heart, parasailing and ziplining are also available.

El Matador Beach

Looking for a spectacular shoreline with white sands, towering cliffs, crashing waves, and craggy rock formations in a semi-hidden location?

Look no further than El Matador, located north of Malibu off the winding Pacific Coast Highway. It’s easy to miss the small, brown sign pointing toward the small parking lot at the trail-head, so watch carefully between Broad Beach and Decker Canyon Roads. Once you find it, be prepared to hike down a 150-foot bluff with the help of some steep stairs.

Not for small children or those who are physically challenged, but if you can make it down the steps you’ll be treated with breathtaking views. The locals know about this beach and you may see some photo shoots taking place – we did!

There is blissfully little to do on this small but glorious stretch of beach, so bring a picnic lunch or some wine and find a hidden nook to enjoy an incredibly romantic setting.

Redondo Beach

By now, you’ve probably noticed that my husband and I are beach bums. We found this beach on accident while looking for a nearby place to stay the night before flying out of LAX the next morning.

The Redondo Pier is a landmark with panoramic ocean views and water activities that include harbor cruises, seasonal whale watching, kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats. Truth be known, we didn’t try any of these out, but we loved the views from Tony’s on the Pier where we enjoyed Happy Hour!

The pier is also home to a 16-foot great white shark affectionately known as Georgette, on display in a large tank at Shark Attack on the Pier.  If you have grandchildren with you or are young at heart, you may enjoy the semi-submersible yellow submarine (darn, now I’ve got the Beatles song stuck in my head) for underwater viewing of the local sea life.

Sure beats staying at an airport hotel if you’re flying to or from Los Angeles.

Catalina Island

This island is more well-known than some of my previous recommendations, but a sentimental favorite. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there 40 years ago and have returned several times. This is a small, quaint island, with no stoplights or fast food restaurants. A typical traffic jam involves two golf carts and a bicycle built for two.

On our honeymoon, we blissfully rode bikes around Avalon, went horseback riding, toured the famous casino, and sunbathed on the small beach. We also took a bus to Two Harbors, the only other village on Catalina Island. Snorkeling, parasailing, fishing, glass bottom boat rides, paddleboarding, Segway tours, golfing, and hiking are other popular activities.

Decades later, we sailed our boat to the island from Long Beach – which turned out to be one wild ride. My husband and grown children returned again for our open-water dives to become scuba-certified amid the famous kelp forests surrounded by the bright orange Garibaldi fish. Next time we visit, I want to try the new zip-line that’s 600 feet above sea level with one run that is 1,100 feet long with speeds up to 30 m.p.h. Wheee!

As you can tell, Southern California has so many great places to visit, it’s impossible to list them all. But hopefully I’ve given you some ideas to get started.

Thanks for your company!  What are favorite road trip must-sees in your corner of the world? Please share in the comments section. 

There’s more more fun and inspirational Summer Road Trips ahead!  Click over to your next destination with my blogger pals below.:

United States

Rosie Russell: Dust off your maps as Rosie guides you through her home state – Missouri.

Cat Michaels: Power up your GPS as Cat lists her top five family-friendly places to visit in North Carolina.

Kristen Lamb:  Buckle up as Kristen takes you through historical sites in California.

Rebecca Lyndsey: Check your tire pressure and take off on a virtual road trip through West Virginia.

Carmela Dutra:  Take a tour of family-friendly places in the San Jose Bay Area in California.

Rhonda Paglia: Rhonda is excited to guide you around her part of the world, Western Pennsylvania.

Lynn from An Encore Voyage shares a recent road trip in her beautiful home state of Idaho.

Australia

Sandra Bennett: It’s winter down under now, so Sandra takes us on a winter road trip to lovely Canberra.

 

 

A Baby Boomer’s Disappointment: “Just Getting Started” Movie Review

Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Jane Seymour, Johnny Mathis, and Rene Russo – all starring together in the movie “Just Getting Started” set in my hometown – Palm Springs. A baby boomer’s delight, right?

Of course, I was excited to see this movie. The premise had some possibilities. Freeman plays Duke Diver, the manager of a luxury Palm Springs retirement community packed with retirees, who has some mysterious secrets from his past.

Some sight gags in the beginning of the movie, like Christmas carolers dressed in Dickensian clothes wearing flip-flops, made me smile a bit. But then “Just Getting Started” went terribly wrong. This movie was not just boring and unfunny, it slammed us boomers.  Pun intended, I’m just getting started!

Is anyone else tired of the elderly portrayed as horny, desperate, and lonely? The women in this movie are dismally portrayed as dejected, just waiting around for the attention of their male counterparts. Don’t they have anything else better to do?

There was a creepy scene in the beginning of the movie with Glenne Headly (who I remember from Lonesome Dove and sadly discovered died this year at the young age of 62) standing on a ladder with Freeman ogling her and making inappropriate comments.

This is especially sad since it was announced today that Oscar-winning Freeman, who starred in some of my favorite movies like “Shawshank Redemption,” has been accused of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment by eight women. Freeman apologized to anyone “who felt uncomfortable or disrespected.”

Another disappointment: Although the opening scenes were shot in my California desert, the rest of “Just Getting Started” was clearly not filmed here. I found out later that most of the movie was shot in New Mexico. They even ripped off the name of the famous atmospheric Melvyn’s restaurant here, once a magnet for Hollywood’s elite like the Rat Pack, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Marlon Brando, Rita Hayworth, and Jerry Lewis, and slapped it on a building that obviously was not the original restaurant.

Aside from my local umbrage, this movies was just sad. I couldn’t keep watching it. But I hear it only got worse. As a review on Roger Ebert’s website said, the movie “awkwardly evolves from being a horny oldsters on the loose caper to a macho one-upmanship contest and, finally, a crime film about foiling a mob hit beset with dreary car chases, a literal snooze-fest stakeout, a rather tame cobra stuck in a golf bag and perhaps one of the least-exciting bomb explosions ever captured on film.”

In a year that produced Oscar-winning performances of boomers that didn’t fit into the typical stereotypes, “Just Getting Started” is especially disappointing. Last year, Jeff Bridges, 67, starred as a Texas Ranger tracking down a pair of bank-robbing brothers. Viggo Mortensen, 58, played a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous education that challenged his philosophy about life. And Isabelle Huppert, 63, played a woman who turned the tables on her attacker. That seemed like a nice change since we baby boomers are not grumpy, over-sexed, old codgers cussing up a storm like we are often portrayed in Hollywood. We are active, productive, and vibrant members of society.

As I pointed out in a previous blog, “These days, if Hollywood ridiculed an ethnic group, the LGBT community, or the disabled in movies, people would be in an uproar. So why do people quietly tolerate the way movies make fun of older people?”

“Just Getting Started” is streaming now online, but my advice? Skip this one.

 

Fun Spring Activities for Baby Boomers

Who doesn’t love spring when longer days brighten the sky, birds sing joyfully, and trees begin sprouting bright new leaves? Even here in the California desert where I live, wildflowers bloom, jacaranda trees explode with purple flowers, and cacti burst with flowers in brilliant colors.

photo springSince a lack of sunlight during short, winter days can adversely affect older adults’ moods,  aren’t you baby boomers ready to celebrate this spectacular time of year? I’ve updated a previous blog to list six fun spring activities baby boomers can enjoy as weather permits, no matter your age.

Take A Spring Break

Who says college students are the only ones who can take a spring break? We baby boomers get itchy feet too and there are lots of sunny places to visit. U.S. News’ list of top five cheap spring break destinations included Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, New Orleans, South Padre Island, and Key West.

This is the perfect time to visit one of the National Parks before the summer crowds hit. According to AARP, baby boomers have seen more national parks than other generations – on average 14. But since there’s 58 in the U.S., there’s plenty more to see!

Need to stay closer to home? A weekend trip to a local beach or lake may be just the ticket. Or simply enjoy a Sunday drive on a road you’ve never taken before. Rent a convertible for extra fun and wind your way to a nearby town or park you’ve been meaning to explore.

Plant a Garden

One of my favorite activities is picking out seeds or plants at the garden center with my grandchildren and planting them when we get home. 

The joy of walking outside, enjoying the beauty of greenery shining in the sun, the sound of bees buzzing nearby, plopping an irresistible strawberry in your mouth, and then gathering vegetables and deliciously aromatic herbs for a recipe – what better way to celebrate spring!

If you don’t have space for a garden, visit a Farmer’s Market.

Eat Al Fresco

Spring is finally here and we have that precious extra hour’s daylight. Head outside, have a picnic at the park or some other scenic area, and enjoy eating fresh food with a view.

Or simply throw a bright and cheerful tablecloth on your patio table, add some fresh cut flowers into soup cans painted in spring colors, and a few floral napkins. Then enjoy a magical spring dinner with family or friends outside to welcome the season.

Feeling lazy? Eat outside at a local cafe. Or invite some friends over, get out your good china, and enjoy an afternoon tea party on your patio.

Bring the Outdoors In

Change out your curtains with a sheer, billowy, or natural fabric. You may even want to paint a room a vibrant spring color or bring new life to old furniture with a coat of fresh white paint. If you’re doing some spring cleaning, be sure and wash your windows so you can enjoy your view outdoors.

Install some window boxes and plant some herbs or bright spring flowers. Buy some showy tulips or daffodils with their bright, cheery colors or clip some spring blossoms and display them in your home. 

Be sure and open your windows to listen to a spring shower or simply enjoy a gentle spring breeze. Take a few calming deep breaths and enjoy all that fresh air.

Play Outside with Your Grandchildren

Oh, the fun you can have with your grandchildren during springtime! Ride bikes, play tennis, or jump on a trampoline. Enjoy some gardening or have a fancy picnic in the park.

Explore the neighborhood with a butterfly net in hand. Build a birdhouse together and attract wildlife you can enjoy watching together.

Or introduce your grandchildren to some old-fashioned outdoor games like Kick-the-Can, Red Rover, Red Light-Green Light, or Duck-Duck-Goose. They’ll love it!

Take a Hike

This is a no-brainer, but put on your hiking boots, pack up some water and snacks, and go discover the great outdoors. We all know that baby boomers need to keep moving to stay healthy and this is a fun way to do it.

As I pointed out in my blog, Hiking and Happiness, no big surprise, a new study shows that walking or hiking in nature can bring us inner peace, joy, and happiness. My husband and I have had many pleasant afternoons trying out some local hiking trails. I’d highly recommend it!

If your health does not allow a vigorous hike, take a gentle stroll on a deserted beach with your loved one or take a walk around the block. Just get out there and enjoy the sunshine!

These are just a few ideas, I’m sure you can come up with more. Whatever you choose to do, shed that winter coat as soon as the weather allows, grab a pair of scandals, and get out there and enjoy the fleeting glory of spring!

 

20 Best Reading Quotes to Inspire Baby Boomer Book Lovers

Summer is the perfect time for some relaxation and reading. All you baby boomer book lovers out there, it’s time to break out your Kindle, dust off your favorite book, or head for your local library. It just so happens that August 9th marks National Book Lovers Day and it’s time to celebrate!

Reading on BeachIn honor of the day, my writer pals are sharing all the ways we adore reading with a #BookLuvHop. You can visit the awesome bloggers listed at the end of this post who share their libre passion.

To mark the occasion – and simply because I absolutely treasure books of all kinds – I’m sharing 20 inspiring quotes that will remind you of the power and pleasure of books.

Enjoy!

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” – William Styron

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” – Anna Quindlen

“A good book is the purest essence of a human soul.” – Thomas Carlyle

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles William Eliot

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” -Cicero

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” – Emilia Fox

Books Coffee“I love the smell of book ink in the morning.” – Umberto Eco

“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment I know in which there is no alloy. It lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will be there to support you when all other resources are gone. It will be present to you when the energies of your body have fallen away from you. It will last you until your death. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live.” – Anthony Trollope

“A first book has some of the sweetness of a first love.” – Robert Aris Willmott

“What I see in the Bible, especially in the book of Psalms, which is a book of gratitude for the created world, is a recognition that all good things on Earth are God’s, every good gift is from above. They are good if we recognize where they came from and if we treat them the way the Designer intended them to be treated.” – Philip Yancey

“The world was hers for the reading.” – Betty Smith

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” – Dr. Seuss

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin

Books Travel“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” – Diane Duane

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” – Erasmus

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

“I love books. I adore everything about them. I love the feel of the pages on my fingertips. They are light enough to carry, yet so heavy with worlds and ideas. I love the sound of the pages flicking against my fingers. Print against fingerprints. Books make people quiet, yet they are so loud.” – Nnedi Okorafor 

“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” – Toni Morrison

“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.” – Catherynne M. Valente

Don’t you love these quotes that expresses our love of books so eloquently? So, thanks for visiting and I wish you a great summer as you delve into other worlds through the wonder of books.

Please visit these awesome bloggers next, who will inspire you and make you smile with more book loving in the #BookLuvHop:

Carmela Dutra

Rebecca Lyndsey

James Miller

Cat Michaels

Rosie Russell

Images courtesy of marcolm, amenic181, and jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

Ready, Set, Jump Into Summer: 2017 CURRENTLY Summer Blog Hop

Sun screen. Kids playing “Marco Polo” in the pool. Family road trips. Summer is in the air!

summerThat means it’s time for a CURRRENTLY Summer Blog Hop.

My blogger buddies and I are sharing what we’re up to this summer to inspire you to have the greatest summer ever!

What are we thinking about, reading, watching, writing about, listening to, and anticipating? Please have a read and enjoy! Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs listed at the end of this post for some more summer inspiration.

Reading…

Looking for a couple of page turners to enjoy on the beach or by the pool?

I just finished the novel, I Let You Go, by Clair Mackintosh. The astonishing twist in the middle of the book had me glancing back to see how the author had fooled me! I guessed some of the other surprises toward the end of the book, but not all of them. A cunning psychological thriller that keeps you turning pages.

The other book I recently read, You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott, features the competitive and, yes, brutal world of gymnasts and their parents on track for the Olympics. The book begs the answer to the question – how well do we really know the people we love best? Let’s just say, they aren’t always worthy of our trust in this fascinating book.

sailingLoving…

Loving our sailboat, Jules of the Sea! Hard to point to one reason why sailing is so addicting.

As I wrote in an earlier blog: Is it the feel of brisk sea air in your face, the disconnection from all the stress, noise, and worries, the sounds of the gentle lapping of the water and the hum of the wind in the sails, or the deep connection with nature, peace, and serenity?

Whatever the reason, we’re hooked and have been sailing for more than 30 years. I’m looking forward to doing plenty more of it this summer!

Watching…

A couple of my blogging buddies raved about Poldark in our last CURRENTLY blog hop, so I decided to give it a try. All I can say is if you haven’t been watching this PBS Masterpiece series – you are missing out! I LOVE, LOVE it! They are filming Season 3 now.

Then, there’s Colony on Netflix. I can’t resist a good sci-fi and besides that, the sexy blonde from Lost, Josh Holloway, stars in it. Just starting Season 2. The otherworldly drones are ominously policing the humans since “the arrival,” the “red hats” are patrolling the street mercilessly, and the Sullivan family are caught in the middle. Pretty good stuff.

writingWriting…

I’ve got several irons in the fire right now.

Still not ready to reveal my latest writing project, but if all goes according to plan, it will include a book, new website, and an online course. Stay tuned…

I’m also putting the final edits in my book tentatively titled, I’m Your Daughter, Julie. The book shares my story about caring for my mother who had a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s along with caregiving tips.

Then there’s a humorous book about getting older and a book on finding your baby boomer bliss (based on this blog) that are in the beginning stages.

I’ve been a busy girl!

Thinking About…

Must be my age, but I’ve been dreaming about future plans. Retirement is probably at least a decade away, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it.

Most my life, I’ve been a freelance writer and feel fortunate to have made a living doing something I love. But I’d like to make a few changes. Although I’m captivated by words and can’t imagine not writing at all, like many independent baby boomers, I want to have more creative control over my career. Specifically, what I write and how much time I spend doing it. In other words, instead of writing for other people, I’d like to start writing for myself.

Hopefully, all my new projects will bring me closer to those goals.

concert 2Listening to…

Billy Joel! Check out my blog for details, but I was lucky to attend his concert at Dodger Stadium with surprise guests Pink and Axl Rose.

My favorite moment was when all the flashlights lit up like stars in the sky. We all swayed together joyfully and happily sang along as Billy Joel belted out “Piano Man.” So much fun!

My sister also bought me and hubby tickets to the play, Margaritaville, based on Jimmy Buffett’s music for our upcoming anniversary. The play is so much fun and heading to Broadway. If you are looking for a carefree, funny, and entertaining play, look no further!

Anticipating…

Going to the beach! The ocean has always been my peaceful sanctuary. I’m anticipating magnificent sunsets and the gentle sound of waves lapping on the shore.

My oldest granddaughter is learning to surf and has a natural knack for it. I’ll be merrily riding the waves alongside her on my boogie board. I’m looking forward to the giggles of my grandchildren as they play in the waves, build sand castles, and catch sand crabs in their buckets.

scott and julie gardensMaking Me Happy…

Got to say, it’s my hubby. My safe haven, my best friend, the love of my live, my biggest supporter, and my soothing comforter. Did I mention he cooks too? This month marks our 39th anniversary of wedded bliss.

So, there you go. That’s what I’ll be up to this summer. What are your summer plans? What are you reading, watching, listening to, or looking forward to? Please share in the comments below!

For more Summer 2017 CURRENTLY moments, visit the #Gr8blogs below. Thanks for stopping by!

Tracy Bryan: Tracy Bryan, Children’s Author

Cat Michaels: Cat’s Corner

Sandra Bennett: Sandra Bennett, Author

Auden Johnson: Dark Treasury

Carmela Dutra: Carmela Dutra, Children’s Author

James Milson: Writing & Things

Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, think4photop, surasakiStock and ponsuwan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomer Billy Joel Rocks Dodger Stadium

Billy Joel with PinkThe flashlights lit up like stars in the sky, swaying joyfully as Billy Joel belted out “Piano Man” at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

The enamored audience filled with baby boomers sang along and, yes, I was fortunate to be one of them.

“It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday,” Billy Joel sang in the middle of the performance and we roared for the acknowledgement.

The concert included many of the classic Billy Joel songs baby boomers will remember. The two-and-a-half hour concert began with “Movin’ Out” from Joel’s 1977’s “The Stranger” album and went on to include “My Life,” “She’s Always a Woman,” “The Longest Time,” and “Vienna.” The 68-year-old can still hit and hold every high note, never wavering.

If that wasn’t enough, surprise guests Pink and Axl Rose showed up much to our delight.  Pink was up first, adding her powerful vocals in  a duet of  “New York State of Mind” and then belted out her own stirring song, “Try,”

Billy Joel with AxlLater, much to the audience’s shock, Joel introduced Rose for a rowdy rendition of  “Highway to Hell ” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Rose also sneaked onstage one last time during Joel’s encore performance to sing “Big Shot,” with Joel chiming in during the choruses.

In some easygoing banter, Billy Joel reminisced about his days in LA early in his career struggling to find success at the piano bar that would be the inspiration for his signature song, Piano Man.

“So this is where the Dodgers ended up?” he asked, looking around Dodger Stadium. “They used to play at Ebbets Field. Then they left and I became a freakin’ Yankees fan.”

The crowd booed and Joel grinned. He acknowledged how different it was to playing a massive stadium after those early days when he played at bars around Hollywood Hills, Studio City and eventually the Troubadour.

Billy Joel ConcertHumbly, with self-depreciation, Joel confessed the many geographical and historical mistakes in “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and called “Allentown” an “authentic rock and roll” error. “I was still living here when I wrote this song,” he said introducing “The Entertainer.” “I was wrong when I wrote it, I was cynical. But I like to do this one because it reminds me what an annoying person I was.”

Joel paid tribute to artists singing “Take It Easy” by the Eagles and Randy Newman’s “The Natural.” Each member of the band was also given a moment to shine, including Carl Fischer on the trumpet, saxophonist and backing vocalist Mark Rivera, and the magnificent vocals of Mike DelGuidice whose voice soared on the Puccini aria “Nessun dorma.”

The encore included well-known hits like  “Uptown Girl,” “Only the Good Die Young,” and “You May Be Right” which had all of us on our feet dancing and belting out the choruses.

We were “all in the mood for a melody” and Joel delivered as our piano man. “You’ve got us feeling’ alright.”

Thanks to my son, Jonathan Gorges, for the photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Bucket List Travel Destinations

Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it? Does it include an exotic travel destination?

TravelIt’s no secret that I love to travel, so a new survey from AARP that lists baby boomers choices for top bucket list travel destinations caught my eye.

Interestingly, it turns out that only about half of baby boomers even have a bucket list. In fact, Millennials and Generation Xers are more likely to have a bucket list than us boomers.

That was surprising, but maybe that’s because we boomers are getting older and the term “bucket list” conjures up the phrase “kicking the bucket.” Bucket lists seem to be made with the idea that death is just around the corner so we better hurry to check off the boxes on our list. Like the movie, The Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, about two terminally ill men on a road trip checking off a list of must-dos before they die. Was anyone else depressed by this movie?

However, bucket lists don’t have to be about dying, evidenced by the fact that younger people keep a bucket list more often than us older folk. A bucket list can inspire us to make the most of life and motivate us to experience new things. It can be a chance to write down our dreams to help remember what’s important to us. A way to bring more excitement and fulfillment to our lives. According to the survey, those baby boomers who had bucket lists said it also gives them something to look forward to which is always a good thing.

So let’s get back to that AARP survey. Are you curious what made the list of top travel destinations? Where do you dream about visiting? Does it agree with the survey’s findings?

According to the survey from AARP, half of boomers have domestic destinations on their bucket lists while the other half lists domestic locations.

Hawaii tops the list for a dream domestic destination followed by Alaska, California, Arizona, and Nevada. The top international destinations are Australia, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom/Ireland, France, and the Caribbean.

About 12,000 baby boomers were included in the survey.

Some other interesting findings:

  • On average, of those boomers who had travel bucket lists, they have already completed 25% of their trips. I like that! No time like the present.
  • Although only 11% of the trips have been booked, meaning boomers are still in the planning phase, almost 69% of boomers are optimistic their next bucket list trip will happen – most say within the next two to five years. Only 3% of boomers say their list is simply for dreaming.
  • Although many boomers continue to indicate a desire to travel more in 2017 than they did in 2016, a handful of barriers remain in the way; cost (43%), health (34%), and security concerns (28%) top the list.
  • That being said, 99% of boomers said they will take at least one leisure trip in 2017, with an average of five or more trips expected throughout the year. Most (51%) expect to only travel domestically, but a significant portion are hoping to travel both domestically and internationally (43%).
  • For boomers, bucket list trips are the most popular motivation for an international trip, while domestic trips are a combination of summer vacations, multi-generational trips, weekend getaways, and holiday travel.
  • Most boomers are looking for a laid back and relaxing trip to give them the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family.
  • Boomers enjoy dreaming about the trip almost as much as experiencing the trip itself. Part of the fun is planning!

If you’re interested in learning more about baby boomer travel trends, you can check out a past blog I wrote on this subject.

Where do I want to travel? While I don’t have a written bucket list, I do dream a lot about seeing the world. Although I’m not traveling as much as I’d like these days, in the past I’ve been lucky enough to visit most of the top places listed on the survey. For inquiring minds, Africa (which came in 6th on the survey) and sailing the Caribbean (number 5) are my top picks.

So, where do you want to visit? What’s your top three picks for domestic and international destinations and why? Please share in the comments below!

Image courtesy of digital art at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Baby Boomers: Celebrate America’s Top Ten Flower Festivals

The first day of spring is this Monday, on March 20th. As I write this blog from the California desert, with temperatures currently soaring to 90-plus degrees (too soon, too soon!), the northeast is being pummeled with a massive storm and blizzard conditions.

spring flowersBut, as we baby boomers all know from decades of experience, this crazy weather shall soon pass and we all have some gorgeous spring days ahead of us.

So, let’s think spring! What better way to celebrate this wonderful time of year than visiting one of America’s top ten flower festivals?

In Southern California, thanks to this winter’s abundant rain and snow, we’re looking forward to explosive colors as wildflowers begin to spread across our desert, coastline, and foothills. Other parts of the country, from grassland prairies to alpine meadows, are also anticipating nature’s colorful display of flowers, guaranteeing us delightfully longer, warmer days.

With that in mind, I’m sharing 10 popular spring flower festivals from different parts of the country. If you get a chance, don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy nature’s wonders at a festival near you!

DALLAS BLOOMS

Where: Dallas, Texas

When: Now through April 9, 2017

The largest floral festival in the Southwest features 66 acres of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Enjoy every spring color imaginable as 600,000 tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, Dutch irises, poppies, and other flowers bloom in a spectacular way.

This year’s theme, “Peace, Love and Flower Power” will appeal to you baby boomers as the festival celebrates the headlines, music, TV, fads, and fashion from the 1960’s and includes amazing topiaries built on a classic Volkswagen van and bug.

Click here for more information, a list of events, and to purchase tickets.

EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FLOWER & GARDEN FESTIVAL

Where: Orlando, Florida

When: Now through May 29, 2017

If you have children or grandchildren, this is just the ticket for some whimsical fun. At Epcot, you can enjoy more than 70 Disney-themed topiaries from every era brought to life through flower sculptures and manicured trees.

Flower towers, wildlife habitats, and vibrant gardens add to the beauty. Exhibits, seminars, and how-to demonstrations, outdoor kitchens with pint-sized plates, and outdoor concerts add to the fun.

Disney horticulturists are onsite each weekend to help those interested in learning more about gardening. Admission to Epcot is required. For more information, click here.

cherry blossomsNATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Where: Washington, D.C.

When: Now through April 17, 2016

One day I’m going to see this famous flourish of pink blooms in the nation’s capital. If you plan to go this year, however, you better hurry! According to its website, the National Park Service has updated its peak bloom prediction from March 19 to March 22 due to recent temperature trends and the weather forecast for the next seven days.

Today, on March 16, the annual Pink Tie Party, a fundraiser benefiting the festival, kicks off the season in style. Several events follow. The opening ceremony will be held on March 25 to celebrate the gift of trees from Japan to the U.S. The Blossom Kite Festival takes place on April 1. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, featuring lavish floats, giant helium balloons, and marching bands is on April 8. To wrap up the season, Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival will feature live music and entertainment on April 25 with fireworks at 8:30 p.m.

For more information, blooming updates, and/or tickets, click here.

DAFFODIL FESTIVAL AND PARADE 

Where: Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting, Washington State

When: The parade begins Saturday, April 8, 2017 in Tacoma at 10:15 AM; Puyallup at 12:45 PM; Sumner at 2:30 PM; Orting at 5:00 PM

Maybe this festival is not quite as famous as the ones I’ve listed above, but it’s one of my sentimental favorites. When I lived in Puyallup, Washington about 20 years ago and worked as a newspaper reporter, I covered this heartwarming traditional, family- and community-oriented parade.

This event features floats decorated with thousands of fresh-cut daffodils as well as high school marching bands in celebration of daffodil flowers that have grown in the Puyallup Valley for the past 80 years. Come on, who doesn’t love cheerful daffodils and parades! For more information, check out their website.

tulipsTULIP TIME

Where: Holland, Michigan

When: May 7 to 14, 2016

When Holland residents brag about tulip time, they’re not kidding! Nearly 5 million tulips are planted throughout the town which awakens in the spring with bright spectacular bursts of color.

Since traditional Dutch dancing is popular in this old-world town, the festival hosts dancing events practically non-stop throughout the weekend. Be sure and take in one of the three parades, where participants brave the pavement with wooden clogs and traditional Dutch outfits.

Their website has posted the following update regarding blooming time: “Tulips are on track for a typical bloom time here in Holland, Michigan (late April to mid-May.) While the weather here has been slightly warmer than usual overall, the forecast has us back to cold weather for the next two weeks. The early blooming varieties have just started to sprout but the cold night temperatures keep their development at bay. We will have a more accurate estimate of bloom timing (which is highly dependent on the weather over the next 2 to 3 weeks) by the first week in April.” For blooming updates, events, and tickets, click here.

DOGWOOD-AZALEA FESTIVAL

Where: Charleston, Missouri

When: April 20 to 23, 2017

Take a stroll along the six-mile Dogwood-Azalea Trail when Charleston glimmers with stunning dogwoods and azaleas at their peak blooms.

You can celebrate the floral spring beauty and enjoy the wholesome hospitality of this community with a candlelight tour, arts and crafts bazaar, one of the area’s largest parades, an old-fashioned ice cream social, art show, piano concerts, and an old-fashioned carriage ride. For more information, see their website.

THE 2017 WILDFLOWER FESTIVAL

Where: Crested Butte, Colorado

When: July 7 to 16, 2017

Surround yourself in the symphony of wildflowers in Crested Butte, dubbed as the wildflower capital of Colorado. The mountains and valleys brim with explosive colors in the late spring and summer as magnificent blue columbines, Red Indian paintbrushes, sunflowers, delphiniums, lupines, and other flowers bloom in full glory.

The week long festival offers over 200 events including hikes, art workshops, jeep tours, and photography classes. For more information, click here.

roses

PORTLAND ROSE FESTIVAL

Where: Portland, Oregon

When: May 27 to June 12, 2016

Portland hosts the largest rose show in the nation, overflowing with more than 4,000 blooms in all their glory and rich fragrances.

Enjoy one of three starlight parades with twinkling floats throughout its three weekends, thrilling rides, fireworks, live music, tasty treats, and much more. For more information, click here.

INTERNATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Where: Macon, Georgia

When: March 24 to April 2, 2017

Dubbed “the pinkest party on earth,” The International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia celebrates all things pink, including the town’s impressive collection of hundreds of Yoshino cherry trees.

Festival highlights include a bed race, nightly live concerts, fashion shows, a street party, as well as the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. For tickets and more information, click here.

THE FLOWER FIELDS AT CARLSBAD RANCH

Where: Carlsbad, California

When:  Now through May 14, 2017

This festival is another one of my personal favorites since my father lives nearby and we visit often. Every spring, 50 acres of rolling hills overlooking the striking coastline are transformed into a dazzling display of blooms from early March through early May.

Wagon rides, live music, dinner tours, arts and crafts shows, exotic plant sale, and photography classes are available throughout the festival dates. For a schedule or to buy tickets, check out their website.

Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of twobee, pazham, criminalatt, and nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Golden Boys in Concert: Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian

Can three former teen heartthrobs from the late 1950’s and 1960’s still make an audience swoon?

You bet!

I had interviewed Bobby Rydell via email last year for my blog. So, I was thrilled when his wife, Linda Hoffman (Rydell), was kind enough to send me two complimentary tickets and backstage passes for a Golden Boys concert starring former teen idols Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian on February 4, 2017 at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella.

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

I was excited to finally meet Rydell in person and take a photo with him.

And yes, maybe I swooned just a little bit!

The story of how Rydell, Avalon, and Fabian rose to fame is better than any novel. Three Italian boys grow up in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood at the same time – within blocks of each other. Then, stranger than fiction, all three boys go on to rise to stardom as teenage heartthrobs.

What are the chances?

The three friends, now in their 70’s, have been touring together since 1985, packing venues throughout the country.  Countless television appearances, a special performance for the President of U.S. and a Golden Boys PBS special followed.

Golden BoysIf you get a chance, be sure and catch their show. Click here for upcoming dates.  If that’s not possible, I’ll share a review of the concert along with some photos.

At the concert, I sang along, swayed, laughed (yes, these guys are super funny), and listened to the three reminisce about their days as teen idols and all the famous people they met along the way. The three also shared bits of their personal lives.

The show began with old clips of the three singers during their heyday. Then, the trio of stars came on stage to sing the theme from the Dick Clark show, American Bandstand, on which all three appeared in their youth. Afterward, they feigned exhaustion and heavy breathing while making jokes about their old age.

Then, Rydell took center stage.

Bobby Rydell

You baby boomers will remember that Rydell became famous with hits like Wild One, Kissin’ Time, and Volare, as well as for his role in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann Margaret and Dick Van Dyke. Younger people may remember that the high school in the movie Grease was named after him, Rydell High.

Bobby Rydell“It’s real nice to be here,” he said to the audience. “It’s real nice to be anywhere.”

The audience laughed, but Rydell was only half-joking. After all, he has faced a double organ transplant and double heart bypass surgery. Rydell expressed gratitude for his second chance at life and thanked his donor, a young 21-year-old girl named Julia, who was able to save, not only Rydell, but six other people as an organ donor.

Once again, I was impressed with this man’s thoughtful words, honesty, and kind face, just as I was in our interview and while reading his autobiography, Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances.

You may think that after all his health problems and his self-admitted former problems with alcohol, Rydell’s voice and spirit would have diminished over the years. He even confessed that he and his wife were just getting over bronchitis. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report Rydell’s voice was still strong, smooth, and velvety as he delivered his many hits. Rydell’s joy of performing and optimistic heart came shining through.

Noting that although Michael Buble’ and Dean Martin both recorded the famous song, Sway, Rydell admitted with a smile, “I am happy to say that I had the bigger hit with it.” He went on to prove why, belting out the song, his voice still impressive as he hit the climatic end high-note.

Rydell treated us to a few more songs and closed his set with my favorite, Volare, proving once again, his voice could meet the demanding challenge of the classic song.

Fabian 

While all three of the stars were funny, Fabian was clearly the jokester of the bunch. He has an amazingly quick wit and refreshing self-depreciating humor.

“Welcome to Rolling Bones Tour,” he said wryly. “What the hell are we doing here so late?”

Fabian

Perhaps his voice hasn’t held up quite as well as his friend, Rydell, but Fabian could joke about it. “I tried to sing like Bobby and I was in traction for two months,” he teased. “I got a book too (referring to Rydell’s recent autobiography) – oh no – I got booked. There’s a difference there.”

He sang “I’m a Man,” confessing that he was only 15 years old when he performed the song on Dick Clark’s show. “I had a lot of nerve singing those lyrics,” he quipped. Fabian also included a song “a lot of people were strolling to” in the late 50’s, Turn Me Loose, adding that he went to high school with Chubby Checkers.

Fabian got a lot of laughs from the audience when he joked about three wine glasses on stage. “This one is Bobby’s,” he noted. “Look, he forgot to take his little blue pill. You know why you need the little blue pill. So you won’t fall out of bed at night.” (Okay, that was a bit naughty!). “This is Frankie’s glass, it has his teeth in it. Mine has my old pompadour in it. I miss my buddy.”

When he invited several women on stage to do the Twist with him while he sang his biggest hit of all, Tiger, one woman fell on the stairs. After he made sure she was okay, he joked, “It’s been a long time since someone fell for me.” In a sweet moment, one of the women told Fabian she had danced the Twist with him at one of his concerts 30 years ago and still had a photo of them together in her purse. Fabian graciously gave her a big hug.

Frankie Avalon 

Frankie Avalon is a well-known name, featured in numerous movies and TV shows over the years. He had one of the biggest selling hits of the late 50’s and 60’s era, Venus. Boomers will also remember him for the popular Beach Party film series with Annette Funicello. Later generations came to know him from his role as Teen Angel when he famously sang, Beauty School Drop-Out, in Grease.

Frankie Avalon singing a duet with one of the Everly Brother's sons.

Frankie Avalon singing a duet with one of the Everly Brother’s sons.

Along with singing his many hits from the old days, Avalon shared some of his personal life with the audience, noting that he had eight children in 10 years with his wife (they are still married after more than half a century). “Yes, we were busy,” he joked. “My oldest is 53 now. Isn’t that amazing? We’re the same age.” His oldest son, Frank Jr., in fact, was the band’s drummer in the show.

Avalon was quick to dispel any false rumors that he wears a toupee. “I am proud to say, this is my hair, although with a few drops of water I look like a Chia Pet,” he joked.

The audience, full of older baby boomers, happily sang along as Avalon performed the theme to the movie, Beach Blanket Bingo. His set also included duets with his guitarist, Edan Everly, son of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers that included Bye Bye Love, Dream, and Wake Up Little Susie. Clips from the movie, Grease, played while Avalon sang his famous single, Beauty School Dropout.

He strolled into the crowd for a couple of his songs, before returning to the stage for his biggest hit of all and my personal favorite, Venus. “Hey Venus, oh Venus, make my wish come true!”  I was in heaven!

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The three friends then reunited to offer tributes to their musical heroes. Avalon sang a Ricky Nelson song, Fabian offered up an Elvis hit, and finally, Rydell killed it with Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife.

In conclusion, the trio sang Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll and closed with the theme from The Mickey Mouse Club.

We all sang along merrily, proving that these three guys can still make our hearts melt a little.

A big thanks to Bobby Rydell and his wife, Linda Hoffman, for the fabulous seats and backstage passes. A thank-you also goes to my husband, Scott Gorges, for contributing his photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomers: Don’t Forget the Enchantment of Snow

Remember when you were young and snow falling had the ability to make you feel entranced and excited?

Have you baby boomers lost some of those feelings as you’ve aged? Do you only think about the dreary chore of shoveling the driveway that may very well throw your back out? Or are dreams of an island getaway dancing around in your head?

Well, I’m here to remind you of all the reasons you were once enchanted with snow. I’ll throw in some elegant quotes about the white stuff and some photos. And if that doesn’t do the trick, grab a grandchild to remember the thrill of snowfall!

Although we live in the California desert, we’re only an hour drive away from the mountains. This weekend my husband, son, grandchildren, and I went up to Idyllwild to play in the snow.

The trip got me to thinking about why snow can make us feel so darn happy. (And yes, I am aware that I was only visiting the snow and didn’t have to live, shovel, or deal with the slush afterward. But don’t rain – or snow – on my parade!)

So, here are my top three reasons snow brings us such unadulterated joy:

Family Snow Day

Family Snow Day

 

The Magic of Nature

snow gate “Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem.” — William Hamilton Gibson

Actually, I lived in northern California as a child, Idyllwild as a teen, and Washington State for a few years as an adult. I remember well the pure excitement of waking up to a white winter wonderland where the snow gently kisses meadows and trees in a breathtaking way.

I know some of my friends up north and back east may be sick of the snow by now, but let’s not lose that childlike wonderment and genuine delight. No matter how old we are, we can still appreciate the way snow beautifies everything it touches, creating a still and stunning landscape.

Forming those first footprints in a vast white pristine field while breathing in the invigorating fresh cold air allows us to connect with our natural surroundings in a profound way.

Live in the Present

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky – unbidden – and seems like a thing of wonder.”   Susan Orlean

Catching snowflakes on their tongues.

Catching snowflakes on their tongues.

A fleeting snowfall forces us to pause and take note of the entrancing beauty. No matter what’s happening in our lives, peaceful falling snow has the serene power to calm us down.

Who can dwell on the past or worry about the future while we’re watching snowflakes gently float soundlessly from the sky?

Who can frown while creating a funny, fat snowman, playfully catching snowflakes on our tongues, or enjoying the thrill of a sled ride? Who can resist screaming with delight during a snowball fight?

And who can stop laughing when you discover your granddaughter is photobombing you in the snowstorm? Not me, as evidenced in the photo below!

snow photo bomb

Time with Your Family

“We build statues out of snow, and weep to see them melt.” — Walter Scott

Ah, so true. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or creating snow angels, snow forts, or snowmen, or having a raucous snowball fight, snow naturally brings families together. But as the poem notes, all good things have to come to an end. Well, sort of.

Eventually my granddaughter cried because her fingers were painfully cold and it was time to head for the warmth of our home. Luckily, the joy of a snow day continues after you go inside to warm up by a roaring fire with a mug of hot chocolate.  It’s a wonderful chance to snuggle with your loved ones and reminisce about the glory of the day.

So all of you snow haters out there, excuse this Californian’s enthusiasm for the white stuff, but I can’t help feeling the same way as American novelist Candace Bushnell, who eloquently wrote:

“Thank goodness for the first snow. It was a reminder — no matter how old you became and how much you’d seen, things could still be new if you were willing to believe they still mattered.”