Ice Cream from India

One of my favorite trips was India.  While it was interesting to see it’s forts, castles and the Taj, the trip was all about the people, those being the folks on the tour.

There were couples married 40 years, moms and daughters, gals who had been girlfriends since birth and a few of us single supplement folks.  Everyone had different careers one was a doctor, another a high-powered lawyer, one a business woman, one student and even a self-proclaimed Jewish princess.

The weather was hot but the tour guide was a cute, young, single man who made Mughal history interesting. He had just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and of course all us women mothered him.

Driving through the horrific streets seeing the masses and extreme poverty was challenging to see but somehow as a group we knew we’d make it together. Silly jokes started to begin with ensuing laughter and I became enamored with Indian ice cream.  This is a delicious mix of high fat milk from some sort of oxen.

At each luncheon stop rather than getting food I got the ice cream.  While my fellow travelers ate curry, I feasted on whatever variety ice cream the restaurant offered.  It became a joke and as the waiter asked what I wanted invariably someone would scream out, “She gets the ice cream,” and we’d all laugh.

The ride to the Delhi airport was a 6-hour horror with all the restaurants which we could safely eat at either closed or unavailable. Our final hope for food was lost when the restaurant had a chunk of marble fall at its entrance. Since the bus couldn’t fly over the marble we were doomed.

Laughter continued through this fiasco and as it did our favorite self-proclaimed Jewish princess discovered an additional carry-on filled with chips and the like.  Tossing each of us a bag we merrily crunched our way to the Delhi Airport.

The Luggage Fairies

In my last three flights the luggage fairies have been against me.  While I have met wonderful customer service folks to assist I wonder why these luggage fairies are not smiling upon me.  These perturbing events occurred in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Belfast, Ireland, and China.

Perhaps my first event in China was the easiest resolved. The bag was grossly broken and its exterior taped together. As I saw the sad site round the turn stile butterflies appeared in my stomach.  This was Day 1 of a 13-day excursion.

As I proceeded to customer service an enchanting Asian woman smiled and nodded giving what I assumed to be apologies. Miraculously a new black bag appeared from behind her desk and I was transported to another desk to transfer the bag contents. Task completed another agent whisked away the damaged bag. I bid adieu to my long time traveling companion and began my sojourn.

In Belfast my bag did not arrive for 30 hours. Since I was traveling in winter I was grateful to have added my winter clothing to my carry-on.  Needing new undies, (I know too much information), I discovered the Primark Store in Belfast and purchased a few items to tide me over.

My final debacle occurred in the Netherlands. Once again, my heart sunk as I discovered my brand new North Face back pack had its zipper broken and items were careening out of the top layer as it rounded the luggage turnstile.  Grabbing the bag, I transferred the misplaced items into other parts of the still intact bag and promptly went to the customer service agent.

The customer service agent was delightful but could not assist in any manner.  She offered a ride to the gate which I never quite understood why and how that was connected to a broken bag, but I declined. While I took pictures of the damaged bag no one seemed to know if I had to mail the damaged bag into Delta for reimbursement so I continued to lug the bag along.

While in Amsterdam the purchase of a new suitcase became another delightful Primark event. Primark is a new European chain store and beginning to sprout in the States.  Husbands beware as their prices are low and they even have comfortable seating areas and Wi-Fi for you critters as your wife shops.

I only found oversized bags in the floor display at Primark, however an employee assured me there were other bags in the back room.  Fifteen minutes later she appeared with a bag which would comply with airline overhead compartment standards. Overjoyed by her find I gave a note to her manager with accolades on her exceptional service.

Upon return to the States, I developed an itemized listing for Delta and they reimbursed me for the bags, photocopying of the listing, and postage costs. It almost makes you look forward to another new bag.

Fess Up

For those 43 folks who follow me on an irregular basis I need to fess up! The next several months my schedule will be erratic so I have pulled blogs from 2017 to the present to entertain and amuse. Hope you’ll get a laugh.

One of my adventures during this time is the Rhine European Cruise. This is the topper of my bucket list and much anticipated.

So from now till 12/2 there will be no off kilter pictures with shadows for your viewing pleasure, only words. Tomorrow starts with the first blog which explains my life situation. Actually I was told by a psychic to do this blogging thing. It certainly has given me something to do and learn. Thanks, Laura.

See you again December 3rd in real blog time.

And one last thing… Jeanie if you are reading Happy 37th birthday. x0x0x0…

Night Shift

So, how do I get to do all this traveling? After retiring and getting healthy I was bored. Unable to get a nursing job in Florida, I decided to take it to the road. It is fascinating seeing different parts of the country and 12 hour shifts afford the ability for much time off. Three shifts a week gives 3 to 4 days a week to cruise the country.

While nursing is challenging the benefits outweigh any grief with this schedule. And the money helps. As I travel I am finding more in my age range are traveling. While unsure of their reasons they offer much to the profession in their experience and knowledge.

So, questions answered let’s move on to visit more of our beautiful country and meet the great folks who inhabit it.

We are so blessed to live here.

Travel Nurse History

Travel nursing developed due to a shortage of nurses in different parts of the country and world. Typically the nurse seeks out employment through the internet finding an agency to accommodate their needs relating to pay, job location, and potential benefits. Some agencies provide health care, retirement accounts, and other benefits. The agency then has the nurse complete a physical exam, drug screen, testing to ensure competence, and reference checks. Many states now have compact licenses for nurses which means states recognize licenses from other states.

Once the hoops are jumped through the agency finds a placement for the nurse. Upon agreement with the hospital, nursing home, or home health agency, the nurse signs an official contract with the agency. The time span for these agreements can range from 8 to 13 weeks, and at end of contract sometimes renewal is possible. Salaries vary with some parts of the country more lucrative than others. If one has a permanent home and meets other IRS criteria travel nurses can receive housing and lodging monies along with salary.

The next obstacle is finding a short term living arrangement. Many locales charge exorbitant fees for short term renters, however, the agent may have housing availability. If not, there is word of mouth, Craig’s List, bulletin boards, and a myriad of other avenues to pursue.

After this there is packing, leaving home, mail concerns, new places, fascinating, and not so fascinating people to meet, setting up a new home, and WiFi to connect. Finding the local Chinese restaurant is perhaps the easiest of all on the list. 🙂

Once your new, temporary home is established then comes facility orientation. This can range from 5 days to 3 weeks, however, it usually weighs on the lighter side. Once orientation is completed the nurse is on their way.

We are ready.

Wilmington, North Carolina: Day 1

Started my day with a retired naval veteran having 29 years of service showing me around. For a few extra dollars this is worth it as these volunteers know their stuff. Try to get their before 10 a.m. to catch them as they get scooped up quick. This is a new volunteer program and thank you vets for your continued service.

Additional note: The ship is self-sustaining, no state or federal monies are received. Fees are reasonable and the docent charge contributes to ship maintenance.

Note turrets on the deck

This vessel is the most decorated surviving WWII battleship in existence with 15 battle stars to her credit. Built in 1937 and commissioned in 1941, it housed 2300 young men and 64 marines. Interesting fact: Marines handled the gun operation on the ship.

On the deck was the “bullet,” a 2000 pound explosive device with 6 attached bags holding 90 pounds of ammo in each. These devices softened the land for marines to later follow. While this device is small the war room below which handled the operation was not. Kids today do not recall when a computer was the size of several rooms. Here’s some pictures that show the behind the scenes effort that went into getting the bullet and turrets into action.

Besides responding in 4 minutes to deck when duty called, the sailors also called this home. Feeding 2300 men with 25 kitchen workers was no easy feat. Meal time saw 700 hungry sailors per shift and the staff were known to make 1600 loaves of bread daily. Pictures below – ice cream shop, kitchen prep, and Thanksgiving cafeteria line where 850 pounds of turkey were served. Cafeteria style serving was invented here as family style too labor intensive.

The mess hall was multi-purposed handling anything from church services to extra soldiers in hammocks who had been picked up along the way.

Hygiene was limited in the ship as water acquired went mainly to ship operations and hydration. No long showers here even when water was available. However, haircuts were a necessity as was shoe repair, a small movie area, post office and of course the hospital area for anything from infectious disease to surgeries. And did I mention the Lost and Found as well as the a newspaper office to keep current on the news of the ship?

Whew! So much to consider.

As you leave stop by the grounds surrounding the ship as they are lovely, and have shaded picnic benches. Great place for a family picnic. Also, the North Carolina government employees donated a walkway next to the ship. What a nice gesture.

On to the Bellamy Mansion —

This lovely antebellum home was built in 1859 by slaves. Located on the highest bluff in the area it housed a family of 12 with 9 slave workers. John Bellamy was a doctor, business man, and plantation owner of pine trees. These trees provided tar for ship waterproofing, and John amassed a fortune from this venture. He and his wife, Eliza, had 10 children and descendants remain in the area.

The slave house, a recreation of the true home, is a must see on the tour.

The house has a long history with descendants living here through the 1940’s. It fell into disrepair and in 1972 was rescued by a North Carolina group who re-opened it post renovation in the 1990’s. During the summer months there are monthly jazz events with a September Happy Bellamy Birthday Celebration as well as movies, and Christmas holiday festivities.

There are other colonial homes in the area, however check schedules as many close on Sunday. Here are other homes to visit:

  • Poplar Grove Plantation
  • The Latimer House
  • Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens

Next, it was Downtown Wilmington which was a fun spot of shops, things to do and, of course, restaurants.

Stop by Chandler’s Wharf for more dining pleasure and rum cake. Yum.

Or take an excursion on land or water.

OR, if the heat index isn’t too high try a horse trolley tour.

Final stop, Wrightsville Beach for an evening cruise. Sandra Bullock once considered purchasing a home here. Sandy, I don’t know if you made the right decision. What a beautiful spot.

See you tomorrow for Day 2.

Outer Banks Weekend: Day 1

Moral: Always check the picture before you leave the site.

With the first week of orientation completed and a free weekend available, I took the opportunity to venture forth. Having never been to the Outer Banks this was my first of many North Carolina spots to visit.

The trek was quick from Goldsboro with many twists and turns among bucolic North Carolina farm lands. Arriving in the Outer Banks at dusk I was unprepared for the enormity of its beauty. What must those coming to the new world in the 1500’s, have thought of this amazing land of beaches, dunes, and mixed greenery.

Driving the speed limit was challenging once on the island. Trucks hauling trailers drove 40 mph when the speed limit was 55. This caused caravans of 15 plus cars behind them. Be prepared for this aggravation as you soak in the beauty. Arriving in Hatteras at 9:30 p.m. I noted a text from my tour company that traffic warnings were in affect for the weekend. Even with my acute NYC driving skills I decided to leave for the tour at 5 a.m. to ensure I’d make it by 8:30 and I was glad I did as this left adequate time for a stop at the Hatteras Lighthouse.

What a beauty and the beaches here pristine and free!

The morning tour was the Wild Horses of Corolla. These 115 horses roam the beaches and the 700 homes of this gated preserve. In the early 1900’s there were 7500 horses, however, the government saw the need to decrease this population.

These Spanish horses arrived on the Outer Banks from ship wrecks and being tossed into the ocean when cargo weight needed decrease. Excellent swimmers they sought sanction in the shores of these beaches and acclimated to a diet of brackish water and sea oats.

There is a community of volunteers who care for and monitor these magnificent creatures. The remaining horses are well protected and a tribute to government working well.

The guide shared a funny story regarding the horses. They are intelligent and had been known to roam the towns near the preserve. At one point they became interested in a local grocery store and learned how to open the automatic doors by stepping on the mat. Several times they raided the produce counters until the store manager removed the automatic doors.

For all those who know me I am obsessed with the Dollar Tree. The Dollar Tree owners have a vacation house on this preserve. Here is it! With my purchases I probably paid for one of the windows or maybe even a door. Had to include the picture.

After the tour I explored the town of Currituck Beach which has a brick lighthouse. You can also walk to the top of this structure for a fee. Surrounding the lighthouse are historic houses and a gift shop. It is a shady place for a picnic lunch or stop by the North Carolina rib house nearby.

Onward to the Federal Park commerating the first in flight brothers, the Wrights. On this day they had a kite festival and children filled the museum taking in the sites with glee.

Back to the hotel.. more adventures for tomorrow.

Fort Mose

On US 1 north, shortly before the City of St. Augustine, stands Spanish soldiers on each side of the route. These soldiers protect the entrance to one of my favorite places in the area, Fort Mose. A small, serene, and scenic state park, it holds much history. The area was established as a refuge for Negro slaves in 1688. Then in 1738, with St. Augustine then under Spanish rule the King freed the slaves and had Fort Mose created for their protection.

While my short summation does not describe the many nuances of this period, a trip to the museum at the park surely does. The interactive exhibits will interest and intrigue young children, as well as adults wishing to learn of this colonial history. Cost of admission is $2 for adults with children under 6 free. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m.

Besides the museum there are trails to walk, places to picnic, and interesting vegetation to observe. Fort Mose also has several living history events throughout the year. In June there is a reenactment of the Bloody Battle of Fort Mose with uniformed soldiers and muskets firing. Then in February the Flight to Freedom reenactment has costumed participants explaining the journey to Fort Mose. Escaping slaves, bounty hunters, and priests tell their tale in blocking or assisting these individuals as they journeyed toward freedom.

Fort Mose is currently undergoing a $500,000. Capital Campaign to represent portions of the 1738 Fort and further develop their living history programs. I look forward to seeing the Park additions.

Donations may be sent to:
Fort Mose Historical Society
P.O. Box 4230
St. Augustine, Fl. 32085
Attention: TJ Jackson

Peaceful St. Augustine

Among all the St. Augustine hoopla there is a quiet place to take a stroll, and sit awhile. This place is the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, and is a stop on both trolley routes. Here shade abounds and there is no need to be a Catholic to enjoy the peace.

Area where Spanish landed.

Spanish explorers established St. Augustine, the oldest city in America, on September 8, 1565, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first mass was celebrated on the shores of the Shrine.

St Francis Statute and Prayer

Later Franciscans brought the La Leche image to the Shrine in 1609, and devotion quickly spread as local Indians were converted. The current Shrine has been the center of devotion to those wishing to conceive, mothers to be, and mothers.

On the grounds are burial plots of the sisters who came to St. Augustine to teach the freed black slaves. There are also many statutes of saints, and a small chapel. The large cross on the property was a gift from the Pope on the 450th anniversary of the City of St. Augustine.

Directly off the main street is a larger church which is a convenient respite for those unable to walk to the grounds. This comfortable church has much beauty with air conditioning and bathrooms. Next to the church is a museum of interesting religious artifacts.

This area was hit hard with hurricanes and remains under renovation. Near completion is a retreat center, a new gift shop replacing that which was destroyed, and several other upgrades.

Worth the visit. Tell the Lord I sent you. 🙂

Non-denomination place to sit and rest.

Princess Place

One of my 2 favorite spots in the St. Augustine area is Princess Place. This 1100 acre property was purchased from Spain by Francisco Pelletier in 1781, with ownership transferred in 1886 to Henry Mason Cutting, a man of wealth from New England. Located south of St. Augustine, Florida, on Kings Highway, it is maintained by Flagler County, and free of charge with donations accepted.

In 1887, Cutting built an Adirondack Camp Lodge on the property with servants quarters, tennis courts, a caretakers home, horse stables, as well as Florida’s first in ground swimming pool. Many visited the lodge, hunting the area with Mr. Cutting, and socializing with his wife, Angela Mills Cutting. Sadly, in 1892, he died leaving his widow with 2 young children to raise. She later remarried an exiled Russian prince, Boris Scherbatoff, (later changed to Scherbatow for fear of his life), hence the name change to Princess Place.

Sit and rock awhile as you gaze at the view.

Descendants still live on the property which is open 7 days a week from 7 am to 6 pm. Fascinating tours of the home are given by park rangers Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 pm. There is a movie about the property at the Visitor Center which is next to the Ranger Station on the side of the home. This is a must see.

Also on Kings Highway is the Florida Agriculture Museum, which is open Wednesday- Sunday 10-4. This is another fascinating trip in history telling the tale of the Cracker lifestyle. There is a charge, but worth the fee.

Tomorrow I will let you in on another St. Augustine area secret. Stay tuned.