Most travelers, myself included, spend a lot of their time searching for the perfect spot. It might be a locale, a resort, a restaurant, a chair on the beach, or even a parking spot. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder and what seems just right for one may be the exact opposite for another. Take a second to consider what these might be for you:
❤️your perfect spot for watching the sun rise or set
❤️your perfect spot for being one with nature (sea, mountains, lakes, forests, plains…whatever lights your fancy)
❤️your perfect spot for feeling at peace
❤️your perfect spot for feeling inspired
❤️the place where you can truly be yourself
Okay, where is your spot? How did you find it? Maybe you’re not quite sure yet and if that’s the case, keep on searching!
On Day 109 of the Nowhere To Be Project I languished in the luxury of my perfect spot. I awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains. I had coffee on the deck as I listened to the rushing of the nearby waterfall. I meandered through the village enjoying the farmer’s market packed with fresh local foods. I’ll doze off tonight to the cool mountain breeze flooding through my open window. My perfect spot is Vail, Colorado. It is my chosen hometown. Give it a visit if you’ve never been. You never know, it might just be your perfect spot too.
On day 107 of the Nowhere To Be Project I found myself back in the mountains of Colorado. For some reason, the mountains always nudge me into a contemplative frame of mind. I got to thinking about a conversation I had yesterday on a shuttle with a couple who had been up for 36 straight hours as a result of travel. It reminded me of the countless times I’ve promised myself that I’d sleep on the plane or nap during layovers. It almost never works out that way though, does it? If you’re anything like me and my husband, you make all sorts of empty promises to yourselves to rationalize travel…
“We won’t eat out”
“We will stay out of the gift shops”
“This is our Christmas, birthday and anniversary present to ourselves”
The list goes on and on.
The reality is that when we’re in the heat of a trip, we do anything and everything available to immerse ourselves in the experience of the place. We relish in the reckless abandon of each moment betraying the promises we made to ourselves at the outset. Oh, the wicked webs we weave when travel is our mistress!
On Day 105 of the Nowhere To Be Project I was faced with a new side effect of constant travel. It came in the form of well-worn jeans that decided that today was the day they’d simply refuse to button. This happens to everyone, right? My mind immediately attempted to rationalize the affront by blaming the dryer for shrinking the pants, but deep down I knew that my Nowhere To Be Project lifestyle was the real culprit.
A life of constant travel brings temptation in so many forms. Food is a big one because for me, truly experiencing a place hinges on indulging in local dishes. Add to these bites the local wines that absolutely must be tried and I’m headed for trouble. So, even though I exercise daily and follow a plant-based diet, the jet-setting mojo is catching up with me. What to do?
Well, as tempting as it is, I’m not going to buy bigger pants and I will always aggressively shun the Spanx-life. I also refuse to change my pace of travel because who knows how long the opportunity to wander aimlessly will last? I will, however, do my very best to add additional exercise (e.g. more cardio and at least twenty burpees a day) and cut back on portion sizes a bit until that button on my jeans relents. How do you battle the side effects of fun?
Several days ago I blogged about Burgerfi’s version of the vegan Beyond Burger. After that post, someone enlightened me about what he described as “the absolute best vegan burger out there”, aptly named the Impossible Burger. That conversation led me to hightail it to Wahlburgers in Orlando, Florida on Day 102 of the Nowhere To Be Project (Waterford Lakes location). This was my first visit to a Wahlburgers and I’ve never seen the show, so wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Unfortunately, neither Marky Mark nor the Funky Bunch was present (yes, I’m that age and I did have the infamous Calvin Klein poster on my wall as a teen) but a very chipper server was. I looked the menu over top to bottom and did not see anything about the Impossible Burger. I finally spotted it when I turned to grab a napkin from the dispenser on the table. It was featured there in full color on an insert. Wahlburgers version includes several non-vegan additions (bun, smoked cheddar, Wahl sauce) though so after a brief consultation on food preparation and ingredients with the server I created the “Nowhere To Be Burger”. This vegan masterpiece took the Impossible Burger to a truly plant-based pinnacle with toasted sourdough (no butter), avocado spread, sautéed mushrooms, chili spiced tomatoes, caramelized onions, pickle, mustard and catsup. With my additions, the price of my burger totaled $14.95, which is a bit high when compared to my son’s regular beef Double Decker which was just $8.95! I threw caution to the wind and went with a side of the sweet potato tots as an accompaniment. My son, a Mac ‘n Cheese aficionado, chose Wahlburgers’ Smoked Bacon version as a side.
After about fifteen minutes of marveling at the sheer number of Wahlberg-centric movie titles plastered throughout the industrial-vibed restaurant, our food arrived hot and fragrant. It was at first bite that my love affair with the Impossible Burger began. It looks, smells and tastes like a traditional beef burger. The mouth feel is absolutely identical. The flavor reminded me of a White Castle burger, delightfully greasy, oniony and mustardy all at once! I am a huge fan of Beyond Burgers, but the burger I ate today is now the king of my plant-based burger-loving heart. It was so authentic that I asked my son if they could have made a mistake and given me a regular beef patty. He assured me that they did not and I greedily gobbled up the remainder of the doppelgänger. The tots were really tasty too with a crisp, very slightly sweet and savory flavor. My son described his burger as “very good” and the mac ‘n cheese as “alright”.
After a quick Google, I learned that the Impossible Burger is not a Wahlburgers creation, but the brainchild of a company created by scientists called Impossible Meats. They are available at select restaurant locations only with no retail options for do-it-yourself patties. There is some laboratory engineering involved in the creation of these vegan marvels, so if you’re sensitive to that you’ll want to check it out fully before indulging. Thankfully, their website indicates that they are working to make them more widely available. Music to my ears!
*As always, I have no affiliation with any of the products or locations I write about and am not compensated in any way.
On Day 100 of the Nowhere To Be Project I found myself on the verge of an emotional meltdown. I’ve been in my hometown for the past couple days to deal with some family stuff. I’m not one of those people who longs for the familiar comfort of their hometown. Quite the contrary actually. For me, my hometown is more comparable to a haunted graveyard than a welcoming respite. As a result, I came here very, very reluctantly after receiving some news that left me feeling compelled to leave my husband and dog midway through a RV road trip. In short, a sense of obligation led me back here again. Truth be told, I usually avoid being here at all costs because the ghosts of my dysfunctional childhood seem to lurk around every corner, both literally and figuratively. Every street holds a memory. The faces seem to stare with a sad and familiar knowing. This place nearly stole my spirit and that is why I left. I knew that happy people existed and I eventually found them. I also found my own happiness along the way and I protect it fiercely.
Many say that running away is never the answer. As a retired mental health professional, I can tell you that sometimes running is an effective survival mechanism. This is especially true if what you’re running from is incapable of change. Flight can provide sweet relief when you’ve exhausted every ounce of fight within you. My personal beasts only show their fangs in Central Florida so I generally stay away.
The good news about today is that I self-medicated with a joyful lunch with my happy, healthy, fang-free adult son. I followed this up with a trip to the mall (another perfectly acceptable coping mechanism, within reason of course:-). First, I devoured a scoop of Häagen Dazs dairy-free chocolate salted fudge truffle ice cream, each lick bringing a bit of calm and composure. Then I bought a luscious cruelty-free tarte lip gloss at Sephora in the cheeriest color I could find. Surely it will help me shine my way through the rest of my time here. Self-care comes in so many forms, doesn’t it? Maybe, just maybe, these small indulgences will keep the ghosts at bay until my impending escape.
On Day 99 of the Nowhere To Be Project I was craving a burger something fierce. Since shifting to a plant-based diet, Beyond Burgers have been my go to choice when these cravings arise. I tried to purchase some yesterday at Earth Origins Market, but the store was out of them. This is not unusual as the popularity of Beyond Burgers has soared and grocers can’t seem to keep up with the demand. Never fear though, Burgerfi now carries them and I decided to check out their version for the first time today.
Beyond Burgers are prominently featured on the menu board at my local Lake Mary Burgerfi. It is described as plant-based yet their version includes American cheese and mayonnaise, both of which are not plant based. I ordered the burger without those two items at which point the clerk asked if I was vegan. I told him I was and he explained that ordering the burger “vegan” had a special preparation and a wheat bun. I also asked for the burger to be topped with an onion ring. He shouted “vegan beyond” to the crew and rang me up. The associate kindly asked for my patience at that point because evidently the vegan burgers take a bit longer than other burgers.
The burger was delivered to my table about ten minutes later. The staff member who brought it to me asked if I was vegan. When I said “yes,” she explained that the onion ring batter was made with buttermilk. I appreciated her telling me that and wished that the associate who had taken my order had done so because I had paid a $1 upcharge for it bringing the cost of the burger to $10.47!!! Nevertheless, I removed the onion ring and dug in. The burger was tasty, but slightly over cooked. The bun was also a bit brittle which detracted significantly from the taste. Personally, I prefer my homemade version of the Beyond Burger. I pan fry the patty in avocado oil, melt on some Chao cheese and serve it on toasted sourdough bread. Regardless, I am beyond thrilled that Burgerfi has added a plant-based option to its menu. Maybe they’ll take it a step further to create a unique and tasty signature vegan burger, hint, hint…mushrooms, vegan cheese, avocado, special sauce and so on!
On Day 94 of the Nowhere To Be Project we ran out of gas. I’m not speaking figuratively! We actually ran out of gas. Well, not so much me, but my husband (on his scooter). Luckily, we were just about a mile shy of our RV, so the push, pull and drag of his empty scooter wasn’t too treacherous. Even though he knew he needed gas, he decided to wait because we had groceries on board. On a tiny scooter, the gas tank is housed within the storage area. He was fearful that a fill up at the gas station might have spilled onto the food. That’s RV life, I guess. We’re living in a tiny, tiny space. Once parked, our only means of transportation are even tinier scooters.
For instance, we spent the day at a cute lakeside town in Michigan called Glen Arbor and I did a bit of shopping. When all was said and done, I had two small shopping bags of goodies that I WANTED and two grocery sacks of food that I actually NEEDED. Living tiny forces me to second-guess every single purchase because there is not an inch of extra space. If it isn’t absolutely necessary, I just can’t buy it (tell that that to the t-shirt and dress I bought today🙄). Prioritizing needs over wants is good because I’m learning just how little we actually need to live comfortably. It also requires me to be more creative by reworking the same garments into different looks and basic pantry staples into satisfying meals. The whole experience of living with less highlights the importance of treasuring life’s moments over possessions. Like right now, I’m sitting lakeside at our RV Park watching a mommy duck teach her brand-new ducklings how to swim. This moment is enriching my spirit in ways that the silly t-shirt I bought could never. Moments take up no space at all, yet satisfy the soul in ways that trinkets and doodads simply cannot.
Day 93 of the Nowhere To Be Project marks the third day we’ve been on Lake Leelanau…and I mean on. Our RV is parked inches from the water and all local roads literally wind around the lake. I’ve kayaked each morning, scootered to and from the bustling shoreside towns and grilled by the beach each evening. It is a lovely time of year in this part of the world with one exception, Mayflies.
When we initially pulled in to the RV Park late on Wednesday evening, we noticed the clouds of flying pests. It was then that the park attendant educated us on the little beasts. They hatch at dusk on the lake. They do not bite (thank everything that is holy), but do attach themselves to anything light and bright. Their lifespan is a brief 24 hours and the annual hatching period runs for about a week. What timing, huh? I have never seen swarms of insects like this in my life. Each cloud must have tens of thousands of Mayflies!!! Thankfully, they are mostly gone by morning.
The Mayflies got me thinking about life. The average human lives about 75 years, I think. Most of us get plenty of time to try, to fail and to figure out what’s important to us. What if we had just 24 hours. The Mayfly’s sole purpose is to mate and lay eggs, but they have to figure all of that out in just one day! Talk about pressure! Perhaps we should all try to live as the Mayflies do, as if this very day was our only chance to fulfill our dreams and our purpose??? I’m guessing that an attitude like that would make it much easier to focus only on the things that really matter.
Day 92 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent in Leland, an historic fishing village in the upper peninsula of Michigan. It is a quaint bevy of boutiques and restaurants. We popped into The Cove restaurant for lunch after admiring the sweet 1963 Corvette Stingray sitting out front. As we were enjoying a glass of local wine and contemplating the menu, a gentleman approached us and asked if we’d be willing to comment on our meals for a television program he’s producing called Seaside Snacks & Shacks. I’ve not seen the program, but was told that it airs on Food Network and the Cooking Channel. It just so happens that I skipped the shower, hairbrush and makeup this morning, so I was hesitant. I did brush my teeth, so that was a plus! Against my better judgement, my husband convinced me to do it (he’s always getting me into trouble:). It was all very quick and simple…some lights, microphones, a large camera and about ten minutes of questions. I guess we’ll see if my unintended grunge look makes the cut in July when the show airs.
Today made me think of all the uberbloggers I follow who always look like supermodels! Do they travel with stylists and lighting experts, or what? I am so busy enjoying the adventures of each day that I don’t have a lot of time left for primping. It wouldn’t be that practical for me either. I rode my scooter ten miles from the RV Park today to reach Leland, leaving my hair authentically wind blown! For some reason, I feel like something would be lost in the experiences if I was worrying about my appearance each day. What do you think? Should bloggers strive for magazine cover perfection, or should they just be real?
Day 86 of the Nowhere To Be Project was lazily whiled away at the SKANA Spa at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in upstate New York. This was my first visit to a Native American spa and it was an absolute treat. Fittingly, Ska:ná is the Oneida word for peace. The entire property (resort, casino, lodging) is housed within the Oneida Indian Nation and every inch of it was so thoughtfully designed with full integration of the principles, practices and beliefs of the tribe.
The spa took the Native American inspiration to an even deeper level. Each and every corner of the facility was beautiful and utterly soothing to my soul. The materials used in its construction and design mimic the natural environment making it feel as if you are truly one with nature. It would be extremely difficult to find anything to be anxious about in this space. My husband and I both enjoyed a one hour “Arnica Muscle Repair” massage before meeting for a lovely spa lunch of herb salad, hummus and Native America tea. We then retreated to the co-ed mineral pool for a while before lavishing in the steam, sauna and whirlpool. The little touches throughout the spa such as the tribal textiles in the massage rooms, herb-infused cucumber water, fresh fruit, nuts and unique Native American tea blends really added to the pampering vibe. I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.
We’ll finish the night with some relaxing saxophone music in the lounge before dinner, and perhaps a little gaming in the casino to cap off a near perfect day. I wish you ska:ná.