As mentioned in my previous post, there was some plank-walking during our BVI sailing trip. Yes, we were overtaken by a Pirate on the high seas. Here’s how it went down…

Following a long and turbulent sail to the  island of Anegada, we caught a local taxi to Loblolly Bay and the Big Bamboo Restaurant and Bar. While noshing on a bit of conch stew,

Conch Stew

the local goat stopped by to say hello. Now, this was no ordinary goat. This goat was a  “spy goat”  equipped with a spy camera and trained to infiltrate unsuspecting rich American tourists. (more…)

beach, feet

Just Chillin’ in the BVI

I’m sitting in the head of our chartered sailboat, enjoying the sound of the Caribbean sea as it flows below me, when suddenly I am flung onto the unlatched door and find myself peeing on the floor of our sleeping berth.

“JIBE HO” whoops a voice from the cockpit, about 5 seconds too late.

Thanks for that, I think, trying to pull up my bikini bottoms while literally bouncing off the walls.  I grab HK’s shorts to wipe up the spillage.

HK and I are on a 40-foot monohull with 2 friends, spending 8 days sailing through the British Virgin Islands, or BVI.  We knew in the early planning stages we would face certain challenges. Do the math. 4 people on a 40-foot boat. Actually, less space if you consider that the area below deck is tighter. Assuming that’s about 300 sq. feet of living space, that gives you 75 sq. feet per person.  Right.

It is officially hurricane season in that neck of the woods. As we get closer to our departure date, several tropical storms develop. “Looks like an unusually early and active season,” the meteorologists declare.  Finger’s crossed. All eyes on the weather map.

We are 4 very strong, very distinct personalities.

‘Nuff said.

3 days before our trip, our 14 year-old terrier undergoes emergency surgery. Depending on how he responds, it could be a deal-breaker for me. The surgery is successful. Kismet comes home the day before we leave. I fully trust my house/dog-sitter, so the trip is on.

The day before we are to fly out of Atlanta, one of the friends has a passport crisis. It’ll just be 3 of us until that can get straightened out. Which, fortunately, it does the next day. Thank god we live in a city with a US Passport Agency. We pick our friend up at the ferry dock in Tortola, ready to begin what will either be an excellent or disastrous adventure.

HK is the captain, and I have graduated from “beer wench” to first mate. We all share time at the helm, among other duties, and the potential personality clashes remain non-existent. With the exception of a few “Oh Shit’s” and spilled beers,  bumped knees and bruised thighs, we avoid calamity.

It is of utmost importance, prior to a sailing vacation, to choose a pirate name, and stick only to that name during the trip.

My name is “Tiguan”, named, actually, after a make of car I like. It represents a cross between a stealth tiger and an iguana. (What, exactly, an iguana brings to the picture I’m not sure, other than it is a Carribbean reptile).

“Zephyrus” represents the Greek God of the west wind.  Following a couple of beers, Zepher decides last minute to join me on a swim back to the boat. Just as she runs full-on into the surf,  I point directly in front of her at the jagged rock shelf. It’s too late.  She busts her ass and cuts her foot open. Her heel squirts blood. The sharks circle. (Not really, but, hey, it could happen.)  I swim as fast as I can away from her, toward the safety of the boat.

“Hawkeye”  has the best vision of all of us, and takes his duty of watching out for fish traps very seriously.  His propensity to fall in to-or out of -the dinghy is impressive, both to our crew and those on shore.

“Bo-Diddy” is a combination of “boat” and “Diddy” (the puppies name for HK).  Running a long stretch of beach before making a graceful “dolphin-dive” into 6 inches of water leaves sand-burns along his forehead and cheek, yet he continues to smile and pretend it doesn’t hurt as bad as it looks. As our Captain, he threatens us with walking the plank lest we so much as giggle at him. (And yes, there was some plank walking-video to come soon).

From feasting on 3-lb lobsters on the beach at Anegada to endless games of Password (yours truly is grand champ) and belly-aching laughter, our 8 days in paradise ranks as one of our best trips yet!

While I put together my photos and more memories of the trip, take a few minutes and enjoy this clip.

Here are some photos from our trip to Bhutan for my 50th birthday.
This old man welcomed us top Bhutan with candy and gold strings to wrap around our wrists for luck while traveling in his country.

One of many Phallic symbols that adorns houses in Bhutan

One of the thousands of stray dogs

Our accommodations in Bhutan
bathing in a horse trough. Hey, after 10 days, who’s complaining??
Tigers Nest Monastery No words to describe it.

Years ago, HK and I traveled to New Zealand for a month.  He was working for a Fortune 500 company that (generously) gave high-performing employees a month-long sabbatical every 4 years.  It was our first time to fly first class (on Air New Zealand, a fantastic airline.)  We went in February, late summer in New Zealand. Our plan was to rent a car, spend 1 week on the North Island and 3 weeks on the South Island.  That was a good choice, however, we could have spent lots more time in the country and still not experienced it all!

Stepping off "The Ledge"

Our first adventure was in Waitamo, where we took a “Lost World Epic Tour“, a full day of exploring the cave systems in this area. We began with a 325-foot abseil into a seemingly bottomless ravine to get into the cavern. I was petrified when the guide told me to “just step off and enjoy the view.” The descent takes a full 30 minutes, and after the first 3 or 4 minutes, it was a blast!  The next day was even more adrenaline-filled with the Haggas Honking Holes adventure. I highly recommend either (or both) of these day trips to anybody that likes a rush!

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tongariro Alpine Crossing is said to be new Zealand’s most spectacular one-day tramp (hike), and one of the finest in the world.  It’s just over 12 miles, but with extremely steep ascents and descents, takes at least 7 hours to complete. Beginning in sub-alpine vegetation, the tramp takes you up the slope of a volcano, to the crater, and down to different-colored emerald green and turquoise blue lakes.  HK and I are strong hikers, but I’m grateful that we took hiking poles to take some of the stress off my knees on the long, steep descent.


After taking a ferry to the South Island, we headed to the small town of Kaikoura, on the east (Pacific) coast of the Island.  Here we unpacked our bags and settled into a little efficiency apartment for several days.  There is so much to do in Kaikoura, including whale-watching, dolphin sighting, hiking, biking and, of course, eating seafood!  There are several small local crafts shops in the area-a great way to spend a rainy day. We also enjoyed ourselves at the local cinema. We saw “The Full Monty” and had an absolute blast cutting up with the Kiwi’s in the audience. The theater had a 15-minute intermission for smokes and drinks.

Sperm whales and Dusky dolphins are found in abundance in Kaikoura. We spotted 7 whales, then took a small boat a long way offshore and swam in freezing cold water (with wetsuits) with a huge pod of Dusky dolphins. The captain basically lets the dolphins find the swimmers, and I found myself in a pod of about 30 of them. We were instructed not to touch them, just let them do what they wanted to do.  10 minutes was about all we could handle in the water. Hot chocolate was a nice warm-up.

Willy & the Boyz

As a side note, Kaikoura is where we purchased our travel mascot Willy and the Boyz.

Sailing the kayak

The 3-day Abel Tasman adventure combines sea kayaking, water taxi’s and trekking, along with staying in one of the most beautiful little bohemian lodges at Awaroa. Our sea kayaking portion was guided, as the tides in this area can be tricky. In order not to fight the tides at the end of our paddle, we hoisted sail on the kayak and cruised right in to the beach. I swear, I’m going to look into buying one of those little sails for my ‘yak!

When hiking to Awaroa,  it is essential to plan your crossing during low tide. The tides in the estuaries rise quickly, and, having missed our water taxi and window of opportunity, we ended up crossing in what quickly became chin-deep water, hoisting our backpacks over our heads! It was worth the effort, though. On arrival at the lodge, I’ll never forget swinging in a hammock listening to Cat Stevens over the speakers. It was HK’s introduction to one of my favorite artists, and to this day, Cat Stevens always reminds us of New Zealand.


We had never heard about white water sledging prior to our trip to NZ.  We’re both fans of rafting in big water, though, and we jumped on the opportunity to steer ourselves down a white-water river on, basically, what looked alot like a kneeboard. A company called Frogz was the outfitter, giving us basic guidelines, transfers and equipment before our put in at “The Gorge” for a full day of over-the-top excitement. The “Chinese Dogleg” was the highlight, a Class IV rapid that begged to be surfed. I love this picture of me yelling “Outta my way” as I surfed over the guy in front of me!

parapenting Lake Wanaka

Wanaka. Asked where in the world I could live, I have often stated, beyond a doubt, Wanaka. This is an adventurers town with more to do in a small area than anywhere else I have been. At least, it was that way in the 90’s. Sitting on our balcony sipping a beer after a strenuous hike, we watched people rising above the mountainous terrain with a parachute. One look at each other, and we ran down to the lakeshore and signed up. Our Tandem parapenting began with a brief instruction from our respective guides, followed by a cable-assisted lift behind a power boat over Lake Wanaka. (I don’t think they do this anymore.) Amazing views of the surrounding area took my breath away. Then the guide unclipped us from our tether and we were gliding at an altitude of 3000 feet. OMG! I have always claimed to be afraid of heights, but this was not terrifying in the least.  I felt like an eagle for the 15 minutes that we soared over mountains. Landing was easy in an open field. (Not so easy for HK, he was captured by a strong gust and landed in the downtown post office parking lot!)

View from Diamond Lake track

1st skydive

OK, I take that back. The “scared of heights” remark. I was in near-panic mode as we climbed to an altitude of 15,000 feet preparing to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. What were we thinking when we signed up for this following our parapenting experience?  I wanted to chicken out, but being a total cheapskate, HK , I, wasn’t about to blow the $$ we’d pre-paid Skydive Wanaka for the jump. So out I went, heart in throat. The freefall was what I assumed was my last cognizant moment of life, until the cord was pulled and we were just as suddenly floating back down to earth. Euphoria consumed me. Landing was a gentle trot on the ground and then I got to watch HK as he came in for an equally graceful descent. If you’ve never skydived, do it. You will literally be on cloud nine for days, maybe weeks!

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth. And our 3-day Milford Track hike was one of the wettest backpack trips we’ve ever taken. Was it worth it? YES! At only 33 miles, it has been called one of the “finest walks in the world”.  We had signed-up for a “guided walk” because a very limited amount of people are allowed on the track at any given time, and since we were on a tight schedule, we played it safe.  Hearty meals, warm, clean lodging and drying rooms to dry our boots and clothing made our first “Hut to Hut” walk so much more pleasant. Plus we met some cool people on our trip. I have to admit, though, when we saw the backpackers on the trail, I felt embarrassed about being so pampered, since we are typically in the backpacking sector.  Then again, seeing their soggy clothes and the sparse huts that accommodated them, I got over that pretty quick.

negotiating more heights

They say it always rains in the rainforest, and that just makes for some outstanding waterfall views.


Milford Sound

Arriving at Milford Sound, we enjoyed a boat ride on the sound, located just off  the Tasman Sea, surrounded by 4000 ft. rainforest and waterfall-clad peaks.  Returning to Queenstown by prop plane, we reflected on our journey through this microcosm of landscapes and climates. The diversity of this land of contrasts makes New Zealand one of my all-time favorite destinations.

Happy 40th Birthday

Travel. It is my passion of passions. (Besides my passion for dogs, but that is a completely different blog). I think my love of exploring the world began when I was “knee-high to a grasshopper”, exploring the wooded wonders of the Appalachian mountains where I grew up. Never content to sit at home, I was out and about by any means possible, whether that meant on foot, my pony, bicycle or dirt bike. As I crossed that threshold into my teens, my world became bigger, with more thrills and dares to take.  Boyfriends with fast cars or, better yet, motorcycles were coveted. (Used? Maybe.) I occasionally even resorted to using my thumb as a way to oppose my parents and meet my transportation needs.

With independence came true wanderlust, and now in my filthy’s (uh, fifties), I’ve had the good fortune to experience many countries around the world. I’ve got album upon album of the trips I’ve taken, the photographs carefully culled and filed within a week upon return. Along with pictures, I have journaled most of these trips, the good, the not-so-good, and even the ugly, and have been pouring through these for inspiration for a travel piece I’m working on.

So I’ve decided that I have enough fuel to fill my blog for awhile, and am going to start posting some of these trips here on JulesRules. I’d love you to comment on my blog, letting me know the places you have enjoyed, your experiences, questions, just whatever comes to mind. So go grab a latte, tea or glass of wine, sit back, and lets hit the road! I hope you enjoy the trip!

This first segment of Hit the Road is a collection of totally random shots that have little connection, they are a basic “introduction” for you.

Hitting the road w/ my BFF- age 12

Rome, age 15

Italy was my first international destination. I was with the Harlan Musettes, an all-girl singing group that won GOLD in the International Choral Festival. We sang for the Pope. I quickly realized that group travel was NOT my bag. Here I’m plotting how the hell to break away and enjoy the boys and some Italian vino.

Ticket to Ride

Remember when passports and driver’s licences looked like mug shots?

 Here I’m thumbing a ride on the Pan American Highway after we had to ditch the horses near Banos, Ecuador.

Galapagos Islands 1995

  This was my first skydive jump, in Wanaka, New Zealand, one of THE most beautiful places on earth!

Machu Picchu, Peru 1996

Glacier at Joffre Lakes Provincial. Park, BC

While traveling through British Columbia, HK and I camped at Birkenhead Lake, a remote, pristine Provincial Park located about two hours north of Whistler . As we were setting up the pup-up, the park ranger told us there were bears in the campground right now, to watch out for Chance. We kept him on a pretty short leash those couple of days.

Birkenhead Lake Campground

While there, we took a long, strenuous hike through a boulder and scree-field-the result of an avalanche- to Joffre Lakes. Beginning the hike, a fine but steady mist fell on the already saturated ground, making the going slippery and a bit unnerving. Chance went along, but HK had to carry him on the boulder walk.  Roxy and Kismet couldn’t join us due to foot injuries). We passed a few brave souls on the hike, each commenting on what a trooper our little dog was. Chance loves to hike, and pulled his leash and encouraged us every step of the way.

As we climbed and scrambled to seemingly non-stop rocks and mud, the cloud cover dissipated, offering a beautiful vista of the glaciers looming just beyond the lakes.

Joffre Lake

Have you traveled to rural parts of British Columbia? We’d love to see your pictures!

Corny, Huh?

Here’s me in Mitchell, SD at the World’s Only Corn Palace!

We should have had a clue during the drive into Fort Peck Lake when swarms of grasshoppers and flying crickets made the highway asphalt appear to be moving sideways. Stopping to re-provision at a small grocery, HK commented on the insects fighting their way into the car.

Since the lakefront campground was void of shade trees and the temps hovered in the 90’s at 5pm, we chose the more secluded and shaded “Downstream Campground”. (more…)

HK andI are hikers. Avid hikers.  We used to be avider (is that a word?) hikers, but time has slowed us down a touch. Plus the fact that we don’t like driving too far to get in a “quick” 6-10 miles. Fortunately, there are many, many options in Vancouver proper that perfectly fit the bill.

Stanley Park is an obvious choice. It is 10% larger than Central Park in NYC, and a 5 mile seawall is the perfect length for a walk or run. Plus there are (more…)

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