Monday, February 28, 2011

10 Days, 2 Countries, 1 Bag

My owner and I are off on an adventure next week and she wrote a post for her blog that I decided (in my infinite wisdom) to share with you. She has a few more of these packing posts that I may put up as well.

She starts off by stating her goal and then shares with you her plan of attack.

So here's the blog she posted over on The Housewife:

Look put together; take very little. It's not magic, here's how I do it.

10. That's the number of garments I'm packing.

2 pairs of pants
2 cardigans
3 sleeveless tops
1 pullover
1 t-shirt
1 light trench coat or other outerwear depending on the weather at the last minute.

These items are in addition to what I'll be wearing on the plane.

Not exactly where my scarves come from
Now I'm not really one for shlepping around in over sized clothing and in some countries dressing a little more like the locals (which means making some effort) can get you treated noticeably better in shops and restaurants. I'll be leaving my jeans and tennis shoes at home. I may not always act like a grown up but I'll admit I enjoy dressing like one. 

Here are the rules to packing light and maintaining a sense of style:

  • Pack only neutrals.
  • Every item must be able to be worn at least 2 (but shoot for 3) ways.
  • Layer clothing to adjust to changing temps and situations.
  • Leave the bulky items at home.
  • Opt for scarves instead of jewelry.
  • Don't take anything you couldn't stand to lose.
  • As much as possible pack fabrics that dry quickly if they get wet; avoid wool and 100 % cotton.
If the power was out in your hotel and you had to get dressed in the dark, could you? Rule # 1 is any pair of pants/skirt, shirt, cardigan, and scarf should be able to be put together without anything clashing. I avoid at all costs packing anything that makes me think "If I take that I have to take this."

Every item should look great paired with any other or on its own. If you leave your hotel in the morning when it's chilly and are visiting an outdoor site in the warmth of the afternoon sun you need to be able to adjust. Plan on peeling clothes off and then adding them again in the cool of the evening or for dinner.

Layers of thin knits are a better choice than big space consuming items. They also don't wrinkle and are comfortable. Looking great when traveling isn't worth sacrificing comfort for and I believe you can have both.

Scarves can change an outfit instantly and can be worn and used in a variety of ways. They take up little room and make security checkpoints easier to navigate. No one wants to be behind the woman who has to keep taking jewelry off and going back through the metal detector again. I do take earrings but leave them off until I reach my destination.

Anything that goes in my bag is expendable. Nearly the entire wardrobe (with the exception of a pair of black pants from a Marshall's clearance rack) was purchased at my favorite local boutique (Goodwill) and nothing cost me more than ten dollars (those black pants). Many of the scarves I paid less than a dollar for at garage and estate sales.

You want fabrics that breathe and are comfortable. If you spill something on you or get caught in the rain, you will not want something that takes hours to dry.

Toss in a swim suit (just in case) and a cover up that can double as a sleep shirt, lingerie, socks in case it's cold, one (ONE) extra pair of shoes, a spirit of adventure, and you're all set! 

These are the basic rules I use for packing a travel wardrobe. Next up: putting the outfits together and what to do with those scarves.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snorkeling and Dancing in Cozy Cozumel

My Owner and her kids and future son-in-law signed up to go snorkeling in Cozumel on the Palancar Reef made famous by Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s.

Water related activities make me anxious, a floating suitcase is never a good thing. Think end of Titanic.

MO and her offspring were determined though. They met their group at the end of the pier and were tagged with wristbands. They boarded a boat with a friendly crew and started the hour long journey to the reef.

On the trip over there was time for a few photos.

ONE of these people doesn't like to have pictures made as much as the other.

BOTH of these people are always camera ready.
MO didn't think to take a water proof camera (a mistake she won't make if she has the opportunity to do this again) so there are no pictures of the coral reef, schools of neon colored tropical fish, moray eel, or sea turtle that she saw.

MO isn't a very strong swimmer and was a bit nervous about going into open water so far from shore. Participants were encouraged to jump off the boat. She knew she wouldn't be doing that. She could imagine how disoriented she would be when she hit the water and her snorkle and mask were askew. The divemaster pointed out what he called "the chicken stairs" and MO breathed a sigh of relief. Her daughter, son, and FSO jumped overboard, while MO eased carefully into the water trying to get used to the fins on her feet and breathing through her mouth. She moved away from the boat and talked herself down from sheer panic. are fine. You can do this. After a couple of minutes she put her face in the water and looked down. AMAZING! Another incredible world below the surface 20-40 feet down. Clear water, great visibility. She thought momentarily how her fear (not completely gone) had nearly caused her to miss this.

She got the breathing down. Someone splashed next to her irritating her and she moved away from the other swimmers. One of the divers stayed near the back to make sure the group stayed together and every few minutes MO would look up to check where everyone else was. A whistle blew and someone who was struggling gave up and asked to be taken out. Later someone else did, MO determined that would not be her. They swam across a sandy spot with no coral and came to another deeper reef. The water cooled considerably due to it's depth. They hung around this reef for a while moving with the current. MO turned to her side and saw nothing but eternal blue. This was the "drop off" the guides had said would mark the end of the excursion. Later when MO researched this area at home the site said that the reef ends at the "abyss." Better not to have known that.

Time in the water: about an hour and fifteen minutes. 

Shivering with intense cold she and the rest of her party climbed the stairs onto the boat took off silly fins and masks got hosed down and handed margaritas as they made their way up top to warm in the sun. The shook uncontrollably for several minutes barely able to keep from spilling their drinks as the boat sped toward the beach where they would be served lunch and stay for about an hour lounging in chairs in the sand before re-boarding the boat and heading back to the ship.

"We did it!"

They were a little proud of themselves and decided it was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences they'd ever had.

Okay so if there is music and MO is (let's say happy) there may be dancing. This is her with Manuel, tour guide and dance partner.

At dinner when the kids showed MO's husband the pictures he asked...

"How many people were on the boat?"


"And how many were dancing?"

"Oh, just Mom."

Somehow he wasn't surprised.

For reasons that should be pretty obvious MO was oblivious to her kids taking these pictures.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Roatan, Honduras

My Owner is an early riser. She considers it a handicap of sorts. What normal person gets up at the crack of dawn on vacation? She can't sleep in at home or when traveling.

She is very fond of that early morning time alone. Sleeping in would mean sacrificing it.  She has tried to stay in bed on occasion but the curiosity of what she might be missing nags at her until she gives in, slips something on, and heads out in search of coffee, a paper and someplace to walk. On a ship dawn is likely to find her with a steaming cup and a camera on deck to document sunrises for people who never experience them. She usually encounters a few men, disheveled looking as if they dressed themselves in the dark. She understands them. She imagines them up early every day in their lives back home thinking of how they will sleep in on vacation then finding themselves unable to.

"Early riser in your family?" she always asks.

"Yes, I won't see any of them for hours," the usual reply.

She is generally the only female in the bleary eyed cult of the sunrise.

This particular morning was beautiful as the ship made its way into the port at Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras.

Click here to view Lonely Planet's travel information site on Honduras.

 Eventually other members of the travel party do find their way to coffee and breakfast and a loose plan for the day is made. My Owner and her husband were off to explore on their own. They left the ship and made their way to the shopping area then planned to head to the beach. MO picked up some souvenirs and some Honduran coffee beans.

In the midst of getting some information about what to do she commented to the man and his wife at the information desk that it didn't look like a bad place to retire. (She has a lifelong fantasy of selling everything and moving to another country. Mr. MO is the obstacle/voice of reason in her flighty plans) The guy at the desk fueled her fantasies by telling her that he and his wife had retired and moved there a year ago and that there was a community of about six-thousand expatriates living there. She carefully recounted this conversation later to her husband while he rolled his eyes. He is very concerned about what she might do if he ever gets hit by a bus.

They decided to head to the beach that is provided for the cruise passengers and set up for the day in a couple of chairs under a palm tree. An Italian couple next to them made small talk and laughed at MO requesting that Mr.MO carry something for her.

"That's his job. To carry things...and pay." she said to the woman.

"Eh...whatsa your job?" asked the Italian husband.

"To be adorable...and let me tell you it used to be a whole lot easier!"

This cracked the Italian woman up. "Yes, yes, to you say -- adorable. I must remember!"

The Italian man gave My Owner's husband a look of pity.

Some things are the same in every language. 

More eye rolling. (I mean honestly, the poor man.)

They hadn't signed up for an excursion at this stop so MO was excited when he suggested sea kayaking which is done in a lagoon. At first it didn't look like much. Grass growing on the bottom, mangrove trees along the edges...but then around the bend...

the lagoon empties out into the ocean and it was just beautiful.

My Owner was very happy and relaxed.

"Oh am I supposed to be paddling?"

Of course they couldn't resist getting out and walking along this beach.

After returning the kayak they headed to a restaurant/bar on the beach called Hurricane Hole.

MO snapped this picture from her seat at the bar.
Anyone else hear Jimmy Buffet?

Some mother/daughter bonding.

Mr. MO met a judge from an adjoining southern town and struck up a conversation that was so engrossing he didn't even realize they were having this picture made. I'm fairly sure MO is ever aware of the proximity of cameras. A sense her daughter inherited...

as evidenced by this photo.

What a couple of hams. 

My Owner would have liked to have stayed and explored this island but all too soon it was time to head back to the ship just in time for a lovely sunset. When she returned to the cabin she crammed some rocks in my outer compartment along with her coffee purchase.  I'm always afraid she is going to bring me something that will get me sniffed by a dog in customs.  Such an indignity.

Here's a link to a USA Today article about the new cruise center at Mahogany Bay:,A6499?loc=interstitialskip
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