Stiff and Sore

This is another list, this one of what I do to help keep me moving and somewhat flexible while traveling. My body is a mess. I have scoliosis in my spine, fibromyalgia, severe tinnitus (with some hearing loss) and “extra deep” hip sockets (the surgeon said good news, no arthritis, bad news, nothing he could do to help). And why I get so paranoid about bonking my head (twice in the last couple weeks)? I had a subdural hematoma three years ago on my left side. Bonking the left side leads to a lot of anxiety and tight muscles in my neck. I try not to talk about it or complain, but I hurt all over all the time and it is a battle to move properly and easily at times. Move too much, wham, move too little, wham. So, spending a lot of time driving, or sitting, can be a challenge. Here are a few things that have helped me during this trip. And don’t get me started with physical therapists who say don’t do it if it hurts, I just want to laugh maniacally and then ask what????

  1. YouTube – Bob and Brad (
    Bob & Brad are two physical therapists who were recommended to me by a physical therapist I was seeing many years ago, when we were trying to figure out what was going on with my hips and legs. They are funny and offer a lot of quick videos on how to stretch, move, sleep and even crack your back when there isn’t a chiropractor near by. I love them!
  2. YouTube – Lynn Schuck (
    Lynn teaches a form of yoga called Eischens Yoga. She calls it yoga “… for the tired, the desk-bound, the stiff, the injured …”. I took some classes from here a few years ago and loved it. Her focus is on balancing the pose with what your body can do, that modifications are natural and you shouldn’t force yourself into what you think is the correct way to do a pose. She also has a variety of short sessions on YouTube to help with specific body parts. And I still hear her in my mind whenever I try to do certain yoga poses.
  3. YouTube – Laura Erdman-Luntz (
    Laura is an excellent yoga coach and she loves mixing essential oils with your practice. I haven’t kept up on using essential oils, I do use them occasionally to relax or help with my allergies, but not like I did while I was actively taking yoga classes with her and others. But long story short, she also has some nice short takes on moving with yoga and I recommend trying it out.

My goals is to find things I can do in a small area, in a hotel room, with no equipment. If you have any suggestions for others to try out please let me know! I could use them on my next road trip!

Now I am off to do some gentle movements and physical therapy exercises after sitting and resting all day! Allons-y mon ami!

UPDATE – I finally went in to the Emergency Room to get my head checked out. Good news, no sign of a new subdural hematoma or a stroke. Bad news, well it is still cranky old me. 🙂

Sevierville & Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Unfortunately, between a touch of altitude sickness after the mountain driving, being so stiff and sore from driving, and just mentally exhausted after the past month, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the area and stuck mostly to the towns. WOW what a tourist trap!! It was tough to find a place to eat or things to do that didn’t involve events or compounds. I had some great food here, don’t get me wrong, but wow. If I came back, it would be to totally avoid Gatlinburg proper and spend all my time out in the mountains or on the river.

What did I enjoy?
1. Scenic helicopter tour – This is more of a conquering my fear of heights more than a relaxing time up in the sky. But the staff were wonderful and the helicopter was comfortable. They put me in the front with the pilot, which not sure that was a good idea? There was open glass under my feet and I was so scare to touch anything! So I just gripped my seat and hung on. Sadly, it is a bit expensive, between the equipment, location and insurance I am not surprised. I did an “extended” tour and it lasted about 10 minutes and covered about 16 miles. The pilot was very helpful and calming and I am glad I went. I now have 4 helicopter flights under my belt, this was by-far the largest helicopter so far.

2. Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
For my second day out I went to the Smoky Mountain Welcome Center and hopped on a trolley to go into Gatlinburg. Do NOT drive into Gatlinburg! The traffic is horrible and it is packed tourists, plus you will likely have to pay to park. Riding the trolley is free! The museum was fun, I love his museums so no surprise here. Gatlinburg is all about Ripley’s!

I also meandered down the streets after the museum, including a stop at Paula Deen’s store. Gatlinburg is a cute city, lots of fun shops, distilleries, and restaurants to check out, as well as a beautiful creek flowing through the town. To wrap up my day I had a really good dinner at a Mexican restaurant next to Ripley’s Aquarium (Jose’s).

I was thinking about going back into town for my last day here, perhaps to try out one of the ski lifts up the mountain, but decided I really just needed to rest today before pushing home. So I settled on some ice cream instead. 🙂 I asked about getting a massage close by but the hotel said they weren’t aware of anywhere reliable to recommend. So sad.

Bon soir, mon ami!

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

Up and down we go! Beautiful drive but tough on the noggin. Ears popping in and out, headache coming and going. But loved the scenery! Kind of a mixed bag I guess. And, I was sad at leaving my mom.

I have driven portions of the Blue Ridge before (1994 maybe?), from the north side of Virginia down to the south end of Virginia during fall leaf-peeping season, at that time I also stopped at the Luray Caverns. Someday maybe I will be able to connect the two journeys! Now I started at the beginning point in North Carolina before heading up towards Kodak, Tennessee. I did stop at the Folk Art Center, how can you resist? Such beautiful crafts and a nice little museum even. Definitely a recommended stop!

Here are some pictures from the drive.

I also saw some of Stan Tekiela’s books in the store! He was a co-worker, before I retired, and I love seeing all his books out in the world.

On the road again!

My month stay in Florida is done. I didn’t write much while staying there, Florida is like a second home and I was either being super lazy or super busy with family.

I spent a lot of quality time with my mom, more than I have in years, and I was so glad I was able to do so. I teared up when I said good-bye, but I managed to keep it in for the most part. My mom is in a nursing home, and it is a sad existence for her. She talks a lot about thinking she is feeling better and wondering if she can move enough to get out of bed and into a wheelchair more often. Maybe even move to a new place, out of her room. I really don’t believe so, she is in so much pain that she wears out in a very short time. And try touching her feet! Yikes. After a career wearing too tight, pointed, uncomfortable shoes, some arthritis and a broken ankle and hip that she didn’t take care of, her feet are a mess and very sensitive to the touch. I did respond on what it would take for her to move, and she did actually try getting into a wheel chair once, but it was not much fun for her. So hard to see, my strong-willed mom now in bed all the time.

But, time to go forward with my trip. I do plan on coming back down after the holidays to touch base again. So packing up all my stuff, what I brought with and all the stuff I bought on the way!

Vacation in Crystal River

So I have now been in Florida since April 22nd and it has been a warm, relaxing time to the very hot, very muggy day today. But, that is Florida. Spring is over and summer is here.

Today, my stay in Crystal River is the focus of my writing. In summary, I loved this quirky town. You have pockets of tourism mixed with the feel of a cute town with the more laid-back areas that lay outside of this sometimes overwhelming structure of “go, go, go” of tourism. This is a great place to vacation, but I wondered if it would be a good place to stay awhile too.

I had a great visit and I actually got to go swimming in the bay with some manatees! Something I have been wanting to do ever since I started coming to Naples, Florida to visit my parents over 20 years ago. I loved floating around playing “don’t touch me” with the manatees, twisting and turning to avoid touching them! They blend in so well with the bottom that all of sudden you are right over the top of them while they are floating up to the surface to breath in some air. But they are so cute! Saw a mom, dad and baby in one group. It was so sad though, the mom was very badly injured by a boat rotor (at least one). I wondered how in the world she survived to have a baby! In another grouping we say about 8 of them resting on the bottom of the bay.

The next day I want on an airboat cruise out to the gulf. Didn’t see a lot of wildlife (a manta ray, a turtle and some coral) but the ride was so beautiful! Wove through the river and the mangrove islands and out into the bay. I haven’t been on an airboat yet, so one more box checked off!

My last visit was to Three Sisters Springs for a walk, and to stop and eat of course! Lots of fun places to eat at around here. Beautiful place to walk at, but no access to the beautiful waterway for cooling off! Although you could see where a few walked around the signs. Definitely some of the most beautiful water I have seen here.

Homosassa Springs is a must-see spot in this area. Saw a couple manatees here, but it really wasn’t the season for them. Primarily it is the variety of local wildlife and all the birds! So pretty.

And of course, my last stop on the way Naples was visiting the Veteran’s Cemetery just east of Crystal River. It was a beautiful drive over here, through what would be called the hill country in Florida. So very glad I took the back roads to avoid the toll road!

Now, I am in Naples Florida until the end of May, visiting family, seeing my favorite, beautiful, smart, strong-willed niece get married to a wonderful man, and spending a lot of time with my Mom. More time than I have in years probably. It has been, for the most part, so relaxing and a great time. It just goes so fast! Too fast….

New Orleans to Crystal River: What the podcast????

This was a quick trip across the coast. I stopped in Mobile, Alabama for lunch and stayed overnight in Crestview, Florida. Mobile was a fun place for a break, walked around a bit and bought a beautiful hand-made wooden vase and then had a roast beef po-boy for lunch with gravy. Yum.

So, I thought I would write about driving. I have had a lot of long days driving all by myself, trying to stay active and engaged during this time can be a challenge. You want to have something to listen to that won’t take your mind off driving. For me, music can put me in a trance-state as I love music!

About 2-1/2 years ago I finally got an iPhone and I started listening to podcasts during Covid. Some were for health challenges at work, on finance or nutrition, etc. Then I found some fun blogs to listen to while going on walking breaks. I had accumulated a few and I went out to look for more to keep me company during my trip.

Favorite – Welcome to Nightvale. This is SO funny and quirky. It started in 2012 and I would definitely recommend going back to the beginning and starting there. The characters run throughout the stories and there are so many subtle plotlines running throughout that you don’t want to miss out! Plus it is always good for a laugh! They are so popular they have live shows, a website and souvenirs you can buy. I also support them a little bit through Patreon.

Second Favorite. Amateur Traveler. There are currently at number 711 for postings. The speaker does not profess to be an expert on all the locations he discusses. He brings in a number of fellow travelers to speak to the various locations. I also love how they incorporate pictures with the talks, which do show up on my screen. So cool!

Worst – Down. I listened to the whole thing because I really wanted to know what happened, but I ended up skipping a couple episodes just to get it over with. It was a great premise, but I think the story could have been told in about 70% of the time spent on it. Anyone else listened to this one?

Very good:
Derelict – An underwater / alien contact adventure. I am looking forward to another season!
Thrillist Explorers – A travel blog that has a number of eclectic-travel related posts as well as more traditional ones on sites visited. I only listened to a couple of these, but they were good.
The Earful Tower by Oliver Gee – This is also a travel blog, but it focuses on France and particularly Paris. Oliver is Australian but has lived and worked in France for a number of years now and in fact had a baby that they incorporate into their stories on how to be a tourist. 🙂 Since I am going to spend some time in France this fall, listening to this has been inspiring.
Atlas Obscura – A classic on obscure and odd travel sites to visit. Everyone should try this out.
Weird Things: The Podcast – The site states this is a blog for those who love both science and are fascinated by the impossible and fantastic. It’s for people who believe a mystery is interesting no matter the outcome. I listened to a few, and they were very good.
Minnesota Circle – Highlights events and products developed in Minnesota. I loved the one on proper breathing techniques and breathwork for adults, and school.

For the way home I have also downloaded “Overheard at National Geographic” and “The Join us in France Travel Podcast”.

Do you have any recommendations?

My Dad

I left my dad one of my pictures, I couldn’t help myself. But I love the picture with the flowers most. It is so sad to have him so far away from family. I have to keep telling myself, he isn’t “there”. I loved my dad and I miss him terribly so. Definitely cried a lot on this visit.

Veterans Cemetery

New Orleans

New Orleans, the land of sore feet and long and high bridges and overpasses over overpasses (can you tell I am a little bit scared of heights?). I have gone over high bridges and long bridges, however getting into New Orleans from Natchez took it to a new level!

I checked into New Orleans on Monday, April 18th. My hotel, Prytania Park Hotel, was wonderful. The rooms were small, but the woodwork was beautiful, the bed was very comfortable, and it had a nice desk for spreading out all my art supplies. Not that I really used them much. I had a nice little courtyard outside of my room where I would sit and have breakfast (usually yogurt and some fruit from the hotel) or read a book to rest my feet. Gated parking, so my little car felt safe. Locked gate and a security guard at night, so I felt safe. Plus, it was only one block from the St. Charles streetcar line and there were a number of great places to eat close by. Everything I needed! A wonderful respite from all the driving, and my allergies! The only thought I had, here is this town full of wonderful art, and the room is bland like vanilla. That is it! Dinner was at Lula’s Distillery and Restaurant, just one block away on St. Charles Street. Very good!

The weather at the start was in the 70’s and breezy, so I spent a full day just wandering around town and stopping at various shops to look at merchandise. I have to say, not impressed by Bourbon Street, it was dark and narrow and dirty. But it was daytime, I imagine it is more alive at night. I walked through quickly and then spent more time on areas such as the waterfront and Royal Street. Being a Tuesday, not many tourists around. Lunch was chicken alfredo at Pere Antoine Restaurant, very good and filling. Then after meandering down to Jackson Square (closed, as they were setting up for a festival the following weekend) I walked along the waterfront (Woldenberg Park) and stopped for beignets and hot chocolate at the Cafe du Monde (of course). I meandered so far, I even made it to Frenchman Street, Magazine Street and the Longshore Studio Gallery. Definitely got my steps in today! And spent a little more money than I probably should have on artwork. My favorite shop, Fleur d’Orleans. The owner/artist was in her shop, and she was very nice to talk to. Her focus was silversmithing and she had some beautiful jewelry in there! If you like silver jewelry with a New Orleans flair I would definitely check it out!

My next day I spent wandering through the Garden District, which was walkable from my hotel. But first, I searched for breakfast/lunch. I was walking down St. Charles Street looking at my options when this very nice gentleman fell into step with me and proceeded to tell me all about the neighborhood and the better places to visit and eat at. I took his recommendation and stopped in this little diner for lunch and ended up having the roast beef with mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. The peas were your typical canned mushy peas (but hey, a vegetable other than potatoes!) but the roast beef and gravy were SOOO good. I totally forgot to note the name unfortunately, but it was just east of my hotel, on the south side of St. Charles. My only sadness was that I didn’t ask him to join me, he seemed like someone who had some great stories. Always give others the benefit of hte doubt has been my motto.

Next I visited Lafayette Cemetery #1, it was closed but they had a number of gates you had no problem looking through so I was able to get a good look. I also hung out for a few minutes with a tour group going by (not long, I am sure they don’t like interlopers).

While walking around the cemetery, I stopped to speak to a resident who surprised me, she was behind a bush on her front lawn when I stopped to take a photo of her front. Her dog was very pretty too! She was super nice and I enjoyed talking to someone about living in the area. She even moved a rug she was drying so I could take a better picture.

Other than that I just meandered around, taking a few photos. So far I am up to over 1,200 photos to go through!

My last full day was in the Warehouse District. I am not sure how I felt here, I did visit some museums and meandered around, but it seemed like it wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. I did find a nice place for a muffin and a glass of iced tea (wow, their muffins were awesome).

Then it was time to pack up and leave for my trip along the southern coast, on the way to Florida. I took an alternate route, in order to avoid all the higher bridges. 🙂 Glad I did, it was very scenic.

Natchez to New Orleans

Natchez was just a quick stop, so I am not going to spend a lot of time here. I need to get caught up on my trip details! The best part, I was finally starting to feel like my allergies were settling down so I could enjoy myself. To get out and walk a little bit anyway. Cloudy weather unfortunately.

Natchez was beautiful and I am glad I stopped here. The architecture, both grand and quirky, was very interesting. It is definitely a place that deserves more attention, and time.