Posted in China

Nov 21st – China Trip Day 1 – Preparing to Leave :)

Nov 21, 2018

I am taking my iPad with me on the trip to journal. I created these planner notebooks for the iPad and they work so well for journaling because you have everything you need right there inside the iPad. Love 🙂

Check them out in my Etsy Shop ;:)

Today is finally here. I swear I am so excited. Over the last couple years we have grown to be more and more comfortable with our travels but this last 12 months, 2017 – 2018 will go down in history as the year of amazing adventures for sure.

We started out last February with a trip to Venice for Carnival. We made our costumes and got to travel there and spend a couple weeks enjoying the most amazing city.

Then we took Mikey with us and took a trip to London where we got to see Stonehenge and many other awesome sites. We went on to a cruise of the Mediterranean with stops in Croatia, Greece, Montenegro and Dubrovnik and Olympia Greece.

Bill and I then took a trip in February to Paris where we got to spend the most amazing time in the city that we love so much.

We visited Egypt and saw the pyramids and now we are headed to the number one thing on our life bucket list. THE GREAT WALL of China !!!

No year can ever top that. But we sure are gonna try !!!

My aunt is staying with Mikey at our house so we are excited by the fact that he will be at home and safe and we wont have to worry about the house or him.

People keep asking me if I used a travel agent to plan the adventure. I did not. I love the planning. I love sitting down at my computer with the map and google and searching the world over for the next location. Once I get that down, I start looking for things that are in the same general area that we might not plan an entire trip around that we want to grab seeing while we are in the area. In this case, the next thing on the bucket list was Angkor Wat, Cambodia so we added it to this trip. There are not a lot of things in China that we think we will want to go on a return visit for so we were trying to make sure that we saw all the major things in the country on this trip. That made it grow in size to something that boggles my mind, LOL. When we started it was a week and a half. Now its 20 days. That is the longest time I have ever spent away from my child so that part sucks but the things we will see will be amazing and I swear I begged him to go with us.

The flights over to China will take us about 24 hours to complete. We leave Charleston WV on Nov 21 at 2:00am (the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd) and we land in China the next day, Thursday at 5pm. Once we get on our last flight in the US we fly from Detroit to China directly and are in the air for something like 12 hours on that leg. Heck, Maybe even more. The time changes a lot while we fly on this one so it’s a bit confusing.

We have decided that someday, maybe we will go back to China and stay in a hotel for 6 months or a year. Maybe, someday. We are getting a little old so maybe is a big word 🙂

A funny story about us, when we were dating we went to Florida on our first trip together and we traveled so badly together that we broke up on the plane headed home. We just didn’t enjoy each other at all on the trip. I remember thinking that I would never travel anyplace else with this man. LOL

Now, He is my very best friend on earth and my travel buddy for life. I say all the time that I am the luckiest girl in the world and I promise you I am. We travel so well together now, it is so smooth that we plan the trips ourselves because we enjoy the planning part almost as much as we enjoy actually going.

I’m not saying that everything always goes perfect. It doesn’t. Every trip has things that goes wrong and we find that we missed something because of the thing that we didn’t know. But we have learnt to deal with those things really well together and those things usually become such fun stories to tell that it becomes worth the madness at the time.

Anyway, we are excited and cant wait to get on the plane. On this trip we are planning to take more video than we usually do on trips. We keep promising ourselves that we will do more filming. Fingers crossed that we keep our promise on this trip. Either way, we will take lots of photos and post them here each day of the adventures in China.

Thanks for reading about our trip and sharing in our excitement.

Bill & Wendy Richardson


As promised to a dozen people I am putting the cost of the trip at the bottom of each days posts so we can tally up what it would cost to do the trip for those of you who want to copy our trip itinerary to build your own trip.

The flights over to China and from Beijing to Changsha and the flight to Shanghai and the hotel in Beijing and Gillin we figured out and then booked all together at the same time with a company online that I love. I have used them to book some part of every trip I have taken out of the US. I love them because they have the easiest website and no matter how many times I use cheap airlines it always ends up being close enough to the same price that I like to use them for the convenience of knowing my flights will all end up booked so that I can catch the connections.

They are and they offer great package deals on trips if you like to just book a trip that they have put together.

You can use their website to build a trip to as many destinations as you want and change them around so that you figure out what you can afford and when the best time to go is.

I do all the other things by using Google earth and the internet to determine where we will go within a particular location.

I create a map of our trip using Google maps and make a location pin for each place we want to see. Then I can look at that and determine what needs to go on a day together with the other things that are close together. This let’s me plan to see as much as possible each day.

I am exceptionally driven when planning. I literally have more hours in planning this trip than the trip is long.

I research every detail of where we will go. I use the internet and YouTube and I study TripAdvisor and find people that have previously gone where I want to go and build my plans from their mistakes.

I am over prepared in every way when I leave my house. And things always go wrong at some point during the trip. But because I always have a backup plan figured out, we get thru it.

If we are flying someplace, I always know the other possible ways to get there. If we are taking a train, I always know the buses that will get us there.

In this case, I have cards that I wrote in Chinese the things I may need to ask a person at every single step of the way. Is this the train to Guillin or is this the stop for Fenghuang, etc etc.

You can’t trust the phone when out of the country. You may not have service. Sometimes we are ok. Those times we use it happily. But I sleep better knowing I have everything printed and ready if I need it.

Ok back to the money….

The flights over and back and three hotel stays with insurance cost $2860.00. That doesnt sound horrible yet, right. Well it got way worse fast.

The Cambodian Visa was about $36.00.

The Visa for China was exceptionally stressful because you had to either go to Washington DC to get it or pay a company to go on your behalf. We opted for the company. Travisa is the company we used and I did a full post on that. The Visa ended up costing us about $771.52

We pre booked as much as possible and each day I will put the cost of everything we do that day on the post so you can get an idea of what it costs to travel to China.

Now, let’s get some sleep because tomorrow we are going to China !!!!

Posted in China Uncategorized

How to get a Visa for a Trip to China ?

My husband and I have a bucket list. We pretty much sit around on our day jobs and do the things that are required of us, but secretly in our minds we are always thinking about where we will go next.

Once we decided that we were going to just go straight to the top of the bucket list and clear off China (the number one must do thing on our list) it became a rush to the airport for us. That’s pretty much how most of our trips happen. One minute we are dreaming and the next we are booking tickets.

I admit that this one has taken me a little by surprise in the budgeting. At this moment, I am about $1500.00 over budget on what I thought it was going to cost.

One of the things I most tell people when they ask me about trip planning is to allow a markup for the things you don’t know. Something like 20-25% usually will cover it for us. This trip has, however, exceeded that for sure.

I suppose, it probably speaks to my inexperience that I didn’t budget in for the cost of a visa to either China or Cambodia. Within a week of our purchasing our tickets we realized we needed to get our butts in gear fast to round those up.

We used a company called Travisa for getting the Visa in China. We live in West Virginia so the nearest offices for the visa would be Washington, DC. I considered driving there myself, 6 hours one way, but in the end, did the math and determined that my lack of experience with the process could result in my having to drive there, do it wrong, drive home and then pay the company to do it. So I bucked up and ordered the kit and sent our passports to them the next day.


How to get a Visa for China

The way it works is fairly simple. Pay them the fees, print and fill out all the papers that they send you, sign everything and put all the required documents with the forms and your passports (good for at least six months past the date of travel) and drop it into the Fed-ex box and wait.

The wait was only 24 hours before our first communications came back. The company does a fantastic job keeping you updated on where you are in the process. Today the lady informed me that our bill was ready and the visa should be ready by next week and once payment was cleared they would ship our visa and passport back to us by overnight delivery and we should be ready to go. (Did I mention the wait part?)

In stark contrast to that, the Cambodian visas were a much simpler process. I used this website and filled out the paperwork online and provided everything, including a digital version of our passport photo for the visa and paid the fees associated. Within an hour, I had both mine and my husbands visas applied for and within 10 hours I had both of them printed and in my hand ready to go. You can apply for a Cambodian Visa at the airport when you land in the country but because neither my husband or I understand the language we try to take care of everything that we can in advance of  a trip to a country that will be hard to communicate in.

The visa for China has not been approved yet but hopefully we will have it in hand this time next week and I can go back to sleeping at night instead of refreshing the page just in case they send me an email for any more information that I haven’t already provided.


When you apply for a visa for China you need to provide quite a bit of information. I was actually pretty impressed with their system and how much information they required for a tourist to visit the country.

  • A US Passport that is good for at least 6 months longer than your trip dates. I imagine always that is because if heaven forbid something happens and you get sick and stuck in their country or some other unforeseen set of circumstances should happen that you didn’t get home on time you would still have a passport that was valid when it was time to come home. Yikes, lets don’t think about that.
  • A list of every single place that you will go, sleep and be during the trip. You provide these and they literally register you with the US Embassy in the places you will visit so that you are accounted for while in the other country with both the other country and with the American government. This makes me feel safe in several ways.
  • A copy of your flights, tickets and hotel reservations, etc.
  • A letter of invitation from the person who has asked you to stay with them or visit them and all sorts of information on that person  are visiting them, if that is the case. I didn’t have to do this because of course, I don’t know anyone in China.
  • They ask about your history, family to contact in emergencies and all the normal stuff that you would expect as well. Several questions asked what your plans were and why you wanted to visit China. That was not hard to answer since there are so many things that are amazing in China.
  • You had to provide a passport photo. We got those made at our local CVS store. You had to send that in with the packet and I assume they use that to put your photo on the visa that goes with your passport for the trip.



  • 140.00 China Tourist Visa Consular Fee
  • 140.00 China Tourist Visa Consular Fee for my husband
  • 25.00 to register with the US Embassy in all the places that we will visit
  • 164.00 China Tourist Standard Travisa Fee
  • 164.00 China Tourist Standard Travisa Fee for my husband
  • 44.00 UPS Next day Air returning the passports and visas to us
  • 16.52 Consular Processing Fee for speeding up the process
  • 38.00 Shipping label from us to Travisa
  • 40.00 Passport replacement fees for in case they are ever lost while traveling

Bringing the total for the Visa for visiting China to a whopping $771.52 ! That is as much as a cruise to the Bahamas on a sale weeekend ! Wow, right.

First, I would say, I love a country that makes it as hard as possible for people to just wander into it and cause chaos. So, I applaud China for that part. I sometimes wish it were far harder for people to just stroll into America without having to tell the government where they are going and who they will talk to every second. I think if we had more of that, maybe there would be less terrorism. However, it really was a huge cost that I wasn’t planning for so yikes on that part.


Fees for the Cambodia Visa

  • 36.00 Visa fees for each of us total & pretty much instant approval & printing


Hopefully, all will go well and I will update this post in a week to say how the whole process plays out and if we will be leaving for our trip to China next month with a Visa in hand. Fingers crossed….

Less than a week later…

We got our passports and China Visa back today. They put a visa into the inside of our passports and sent them secure back by fedex. We are all good to go and have our paperwork in order for both the Chinese and Cambodian legs of the trip. Exciting.

I will post more of every stage of the actual trip at a later date, once I have all the details lined out and figure out what we are doing each day.














Posted in Uncategorized

The Seven Wonders of the World

Over the last couple years we have been blessed to get to travel. I have seen so many amazing things, I can’t even count. But the list of things that we still want to see is far longer than the list of ones we have already enjoyed.

The Great Wall of China is always at the top of a bucket list. So we have decided to take one last trip this year to mark that one off while we are still able. I know, it sounds like I think I wont have enough time to see everything. My 13 year old son said “Mom, are you sure that you don’t have cancer or something that you are not telling me” when I told him that we were going to China.

I don’t feel like I am in a hurry. But I do feel like when I leave this world I am going to not have gotten to see all the amazing things that I want to see.

The truth is, so many of my friends and family say to me, YOU ARE CRAZY FOR GOING THERE when I am planning trips. Or, I AM NEVER GOING THERE, is pretty common as well.

I was around 45 when I started traveling with my husband and I cant tell you how much the experiences have changed my every day life. When I eat, I have a new found appreciation for all the many choices that I have in America. When I drive my car, I find myself praying while driving, thanking God for the opportunities that I have had and the freedom to go where I wish, when I wish.

Every aspect of my life has been altered by the time and sights I have seen while traveling.

And Bill likes to say that good travel makes you want good travel. I have a sign in my bedroom that says, Travel is the only thing you can spend money on that makes you richer. That’s so true.

We can hardly wait for our November trip to China. I have been hard at the planning stage and almost have it entirely figured out. When I first started traveling I remember how scared I was. I still have moments that I have fears. But the rewards always out weight the stress or worry. Sometimes, we get lost. Sometimes, we can’t understand what people are saying. Sometimes, I even cry. But it is ALWAYS worth it for the experience.


Our Bucket List Life


Our list of thing to see in China: 

The current bucket list items is as follows: 


A few things we hope to see eventually: 

  • Channel Tunnel, Strait of Dover
  • CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario Canada
  • Golden Gate Bridge in California
  • Panama Canal
  • Washington State & Mount Rushmore
  • Victoria Falls
  • Mount Everest
  • The Great Barrier Reef in Austrailia
  • The South Pole
  • The Amazon Rainforest


Some of the other amazing things we have already seen:

  • The Roman Colosseum
  • Stonehenge
  • The location of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • The Pyramids of Giza & The Great Sphinx
  •  The Belize Barrier Reef
  • Hoover Dam
  • The Grand Canyon
  • Paris
  • London
  • Egypt
  • Milan & The Last Supper
  • Florence
  • Split in Croatia
  • Amsterdam
  • Dubrovnik
  • Olympia and the first Olympic Stadium
  • Greece
  • Athens, The Acropolis
  • Carnevale Venice
  • Istanbul
  • Bath, England
  • Belize
  • Cayman Islands
  • Jamaica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Turks and Caicos
  • San Juan Puerto Rico
  • St Croix
  • St John
  • Cockburn Town
  • Key West Florida
  • Nassau
  • The Bahamas
  • Cozomel
  • Cancun Mexico

A few things out west we want to visit:

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Redwood National Park
  • Antelope Canyon
  • Burning Man Festival
  • Petrified Forest
  • South Rim of the Grand Canyon
  • Hoover Dam (Again)
  • Lower Antelope Canyon
  • Bryce Canyon


I think everyone has a bucket list, right ? Ours keeps growing. We see new things in books and movies and before you know it the list needs revisions. I hope when my life is over there will be many more things that I clear from this list. But if I have to leave this life sooner than expected, I am so grateful for each and every single thing that I have already gotten to see.





Posted in Carnival Cruise #1 World Travels

Cruise #1 Carnival Feb 2016


Carnival Glory Caribbean Cruise

Febuary 26, 2016

This was our first time cruising. Bil and I took this trip alone. Our son stayed with his dad and it was a completely different experience than it was each of the other times that we cruised with him along.

We can never take another cruise alone now that Mikey discovered it. He actually never wants to go on vacation with us unless its a cruise.

We flew from Charleston West Virginia to Miami and then go on the ship to sail. We drove down to Key West Florida to spend a couple days before the cruise.











Carnival Glory

Carnival Glory may still be my favorite ship of all the ones we have gone on. Maybe that’s because it was my first time and it was so cool but I remember that ship as having great pools and being fun to ride on.







It’s My Birthday

It was my birthday. That was just by chance. The cruise date just happened to fall on my birthday that year.

This giant clock was in one of the ports on the trip near a geocache.


Towel Animals

Towel Animals are all the rage on a Carnival cruise. I have been on a couple of them now and getting your cabin cleaned is exciting because you want to get the next one. The steward comes in the evening and cleans your room and he folds and leaves it on your bed for you to find when you return to your room. Each day you get a new shape.


Mahogany Bay

This little stop on this cruise was fun. We laid in a hammick for hours and people watched and we walked about watching animals play.

We also took a boat out and went scuba diving on this little pod that you sat on like a scooter. It was really cool but a tiny bit scary. Especially when I bumped into a shark while underwater.


Holocaust Museum

While in Florida we visited a holocaust Museum that was amazing.










Don’t Jump

This was our first cruise so I sprang for the balcony room. It was pretty nice. But when we went on our next cruise I started getting the room without the balcony because Mikey went with us and I was always scared he would climb around and fall off when I wasn’t looking. LOL


I can’t breathe

While in the Grand Cayman Islands we took a beginner scuba diving class. I sucked really bad at it and insisted that Bil go on and I walked around the little town and searched for geocaches while he finished. I have never even tried again because I hated the whole thing so much. I like breathing air 😉



The names of the millions of men and women and children who were killed in the Holocaust are written on this enormous wall.


Passport Stamps

This was my first time using my passport on a trip so I was so excited at each port to go into the country and get the stamps. Now, I hardly even try to get a stamp when we go places because its so much extra work. I have noticed that when you go into some countries from another country you don’t always get a stamp.



Cozumel was so beautiful. It was my first time going to Mexico. I remember not liking it when we went into the port because the men would walk up and try to sell me something and call me “Blondy” and then get angry at me because I didn’t want their stuff.


While we were in Cozumel we  went out to visit the ruins. This was the first time I had seen any kind of Myan Ruins. They were called the Ancient City of Tulum and it felt like it took forever to get out to them.

It was beautiful there and not horribly busy. It was great practice for my future trips to countries that made me uncomfortable. LOL


That’s a big ole boat


Carnival Glory is a ship that I really want to go back on someday. We like taking cruises in February. Bil always says it makes him feel like winter lasts less time if he gets to break it up and visit some tropical place in February.


Awesome Memories


The protector

This was the first time I ever swam on a coral reef. It was amazing. One of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen in person.

Belize City did not impress me at all. I hated it. I don’t ever really want to go back into Belize City. The coast, the beach and the water were the most beautiful I have ever seen though.

The city was super scary. There was the guy who walked us back to the port who insisted he was protecting us from the other people who wanted to kill the America cruisers but the entire time I just kept praying that we would end up alive to get back on the boat. I think now looking back that his job was walking around and finding lost cruise ship people and “helping” them find their way back. He didn’t ask for money at the end but he held his hand out and waited for you to give him his payment for saving you.


Spectacular View

While we were in Florida we took a bike ride on rented bikes. My butt hurt for a couple days after but we had the best time. We met an older couple that made me feel happy because they had been together for so long. The sunsets were the most spectacular I have ever seen. Okay, up until I saw the sun set on the Great Pyramids.


Old Friends

Many years before Bil had been in Belize. He met an artist there and when we went he wanted to look the guy up. He remembered where his house was and we took a taxi out there and he walked up and knocked on the guys door and had a nice visit with him. This is the street in front of his house.


My Collection

Every time we go on a cruise I collect the towel animals that the steward brings up and keep them until the end of the week. I love to pile them all up for a photo 🙂

Blog Posts about taking a Cruise

Keep a check here for new posts about our wedding day memories. I will keep them all here or you can watch the regular blog feed for Paris Wedding tags. 

Posted in Carnevale Venice 2018 World Travels

Carnevale 2018

Posted in Paris France World Travels

Paris, France


It was June 14, 2016 and we had only arrived in Paris the day before. The 6-hour time difference made it so that we both felt like it was way up into the middle of the night when we finally settled in for the evening. Excitement and the full day light outside made it hard to close our eyes. It didn’t get dark until about 10:30 pm.

​The alarm went off at 4:00 am and both of us had long since woke up and started our shower and preparation for the makeup and hair person who would come at 4:15 am to get me ready for the big day. I was so nervous about what I would look like. I am somewhat of a tomboy and the idea of having to dress up and put all the makeup on was really stressing me out.

The lady came to the door of our little Parisian room at the Hotel Realis du Louvre and I let her inside and was thankful that she understood far more English than I did French.

That large building outside our hotel window really is the Louvre Museum. The most famous museum in the world and inside are some of the most amazing pieces of art the world has ever seen. I will need to do an entire post about those but a good example is that inside the building that I stare at while my hair and makeup is being done you can stand in front of Mona Lisa and feel the warmth of her beautiful smile.

​This is not happening ! It must be a dream 🙂




During our trip to Paris the Eiffel Tower had a giant soccer ball hanging from it. It was during the World Cup Soccer Games. It was so ugly.

I kept looking up at it and wondering why in the world they would hang a giant soccer ball from my beautiful Eiffel? It has taken hours and hours of my life to edit that thing out of our wedding photos. But in some of them, I left it hanging there so we can forever remember it.



My feet did hurt and at one point I threw off my shoes and tossed my veil away at the steps in front of the Tower and slipped on my flip flops and I was completely ready to go. I put my bangs up, which I had secretly been dying to do from the start and tossed off the veil and we enjoyed the photos so much more at that point.

Once we relaxed and time had passed there were lots more tourists and we had crowds of people who took our photo and followed us about.

I regret not taking more photos in my veil. Once I took it off it was over. I gave it to the photographer and literally never saw it again.



These shots are the only ones where I was wearing my veil. I took it off because it was driving me crazy in the wind and lost it. Yikes, LOL.

Well, I didn’t really loose it. I gave it to the photographer and forgot it and never got it back.

Steps Eiffel Us Edited

Spectacular View

When I look back on this day, these steps are for sure one of the things that stands out most. Just being there and looking at the Tower from this spot was so amazing. It is so big and just sits right there in the middle of everything. I love this spot. It is not my very favorite spot there, but it is very close.



He treated me like I was a princess this day. But I found out later that, he would treat me this good everyday. He makes the possibility of forever seem like something I want to do.



Did I mention that I don’t usually wear makeup ? OMG, it was so hard to let someone put makeup on my face that morning. I just let her go and trusted that it would be okay. I didn’t feel pretty as much that day as I wish now I had. He kept telling me that I was but I am such a tomboy. Looking back, I know that I will never be as pretty as the photos made me look on my wedding day. I love that day. Every girl should feel beautiful on their wedding day.


The Louvre Museum was something that Bill had spent his entire life wanting to see. So getting to be there that morning and grab some shots before the tourists got so bad was cool. These shots were in front of the huge Pyramids in one of the courtyards around the inside of the Louvre buildings. I confess that Bill broke off a tiny piece of the corner of one of the columns in the courtyard and brought it home with us. (Yes, he is rotten) The piece was already broken, I swear, but he couldn’t resist taking a piece that was hanging there. We have a little bottle that has pieces of France and Italy inside. LOL, I even have a piece of the Colosseum.

​Certainly, one of my favorite parts of my beautiful dress was how much it made me feel like a Princess. I bet I spun around a thousand times in it and Bill held my hand and guided me about like I would break the entire day.


Our Photographer was a sweet young girl named Gloria Villa. She was with a company called KissMeInParis and she made the day seem more like we were hanging out with friends.

​The day was not beautiful, and the forecast was for rain but thankfully it didn’t rain a drop until the last ten minutes of the shoot. The following days that we were traveling I was so jealous of how blue the sky was and how pretty the photos would have been with that big blue sky behind us. But again, At least it was not raining on our big day and how can you complain when you have the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop for your wedding photos. Just as we quit taking photos it began to rain.

I really love that Tower. It was even bigger than I had dreamed all my life. No matter where you went in Paris you could look back and see it there. I bet when it was red it was even more beautiful.



The photo of me sitting on the steps is a bit blurry but I love it just the same. I love it because I didn’t really know she was taking my photo and I was day dreaming while waiting for her to get ready again.

When I look back at the photos I admit that I love my hair and makeup. I wish now that then I could have known how wonderful the photos were going to turn out. I think I would have been much less stressed out if I had known how well the dress was going to look in pictures.





When I posted the photos on Facebook I was of course so excited to share them. I had a friend who commented that I had too much “boob” for a bride. It made me mad for two seconds but when I look at the photos today I am really happy that I picked the exact dress that I did. I tried on a bunch of them and I felt like I was too old for a wedding dress. I kept thinking I looked like an old lady trying to have her youthful dream wedding. But when I look at the photos now I don’t see an old lady. I see a girl who is in love and who is happy and who waited a very long time for this moment. I do think someday when the “boobs” aren’t as happy as they are today it will be nice to see them too in my photos.

​Looking back at the dress choice I think we did good. I love the waist line and love how it poofed out and when you whirled about it drug the ground and made me feel like a Princess.

Let’s face it, I am never gonna be able to say again that I was wearing Vera Wang. LOL



The shots at the bridge crossing the Seine River were fun. The week before we went to Paris this was completely under water in a big flood along the River.

​It was still close to the water, but it had gone down enough that you could walk down the steps and walk along the banks of the River.




​The shots underneath the Eiffel Tower are all some of my favorites. We walked in the middle of the road and cars just stopped. Tooted their horns and a few times I got “Ooooh La-la’s” from passersby. Oh, how Parisian!!!

​It wasn’t horribly busy yet as it was still only about 6 in the morning. The cars don’t really drive under the Tower as it looks here. They go pretty close, but it turns before you actually drive underneath it.We went over another evening and sat beneath the tower and got some amazing shots of it.My favorite part is when it lights up and sparkles every hour for the first five minutes.

​Again, What were they thinking to hang that giant soccer ball from her! Grrrrr ?



I love the photos where we are leaping in happiness in front of the tower because of Bill.

The Photographer said for us to jump and look like we were excited to have been married. I couldn’t jump in those shoes!

​But Bill took to the sky and I love the look on his face.

He looks like he is excited to have waited his whole life for the exact right person and today he knows he found her. Did I say that he treats me like I am his Princess?

​I kept telling him that the day was special but that standing there in my dress and spinning about in front of the Eiffel Tower in the crowds of thousands of people who looked at us as we took our vows in front of Notre Dame later that day, that I did feel like a Princess. But every single morning when I wake up and look over and see him there in our bed…. I feel that special. I feel chosen. I feel like he thinks I am the most amazing person in his life and like I am his very best friend. I feel like a Princess every day.



​My very favorite spot ever is the little street beneath the Tower. Isn’t it the coolest place. I found it on Google Earth and kept saying all morning that I had to get photos at the little street beneath the Tower.

The street was blocked off that morning because there had been some terrorist attacks in Paris the week we were there, and they closed many streets around the tourist attractions that day.

​That left us with no cars on the little street. I was so excited. The Photographer kept saying….” Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how lucky we are that there are not cars here” !

​I spun around a thousand times. I almost wish we had gone back to this spot alone later in the trip. It was so close to the Tower and felt so private.

​This shot makes me laugh. Bill was trying super hard to lift me up. I couldn’t stop laughing. I just knew he was gonna break his back the second day of our trip and we would be in trouble. I just long to go back to Paris someday.

I remember now that I gave my veil to the photographer at this location and I forgot it. It didn’t make it home. But so far there’s no dress either so I don’t think the veil will kill me. Fingers crossed on the dress making it back!!!



This is the little Eiffel Towers they were selling on the streets everywhere. I love this photo. It makes me want to say…We will always have Paris. Sounds so silly, I know. But on days in our future when things are not good. We will always have the memory of this day. Last night I was stressed out about something simple. A mom day that drove me nuts. He took me by the hand and hugged me and whispered to me and said “Remember the day we got married. Remember how Paris felt. Remember the smell of the cafe”.

​There is no way that I can ever share all the photos in one blog post. I will end with this shot in front of the little cafe. I am certain I will blog about this forever.



We didn’t take anyone with us to Paris. When we planned out our vows we knew we wanted it to be just us. So, we didn’t take any photos of that part.  When we actually got married It was just he and I and a minister that we loved, and we said what we felt in our hearts. It was simple and beautiful and was the perfect way for he and I to marry.

​Bill is the best friend I have ever had. He wanted me when I was at my worst. He took me into his arms and he molded me and shaped me and helped me to become a person that I don’t hate. When no one else would possibly have wanted me for the person I was inside Bill saw something in me that I couldn’t even see in myself.



He is an amazing man. He loves me better than I have ever been loved and he loves my son like he is his own. He gets up every single day and he raises Mikey. He takes him to school. He talks him through problems. He teaches him to be gentle and loving and he impresses Mikey and I both with what a caring and loving person he is.

​I consider myself the luckiest girl in the world to wake up each day with him by my side. Our wedding day in Paris was just the cherry on the cake that has become my life.



Keep a check here for new posts about our wedding day memories. I will keep them all here or you can watch the regular blog feed for Paris Wedding tags. 

Posted in Carnevale Venice 2018 World Travels

Where are all the cars?

Today I was remembering the transportation in Venice while working on this scrapbook page.


One of the things I love most about scrapbooking is how much you think about the thing you are trying to remember with the page while you are making it.


In Venice your brain can never really get around there not being cars when you get there. You make the decision you are going to go someplace, and it hits you that you can’t just go out and get in the car. There are no cars. That becomes less painful once you get your bearings and realize that you truly can walk across the entire island in about an hour if you don’t get lost, but I wouldn’t count on ever going someplace that you don’t get turned around in Venice.

Several times we went out to just roam about and spent about an hour just snapping photos of beautiful doorways. We felt like we were on the other side of the world and we had seen so many things that we didn’t even care where we were.

Suddenly I stopped to catch a photo of Bill standing on a little bridge and as I backed up to get the frame I realized that we were at our hotel and the entire time we had only been on the other side of the building ?

Posted in Paris France World Travels

Paris in the snow

I love Paris. That is not a secret to the people who know me. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it in June of 2016. Of course, I was wearing my wedding dress and getting married so it was a special day already.

On my second trip to Paris it would be freezing cold and covered in the first snowfall that Paris had seen in many years. It was wet and nasty but amazingly beautiful. I am so thankful that I got to see it a different way.

The night that we walked out to see it we went to the little street where we took wedding photos especially because it is by far my favorite spot in the world. If I die, Bil knows that I am to be taken immediately to this location and my ashes scattered at the foot of the Eiffel Tower forever.

While we were walking about at the bottom of the Tower in the snow we were approached by a news crew that asked if we would care to talk about how we felt about seeing the Tower closed once we arrived. We had no idea that he meant that you couldn't go up inside of the Tower because they had shut down all of the operations due to the weather. Apparently people were pretty upset about it. We didn't plan to go up inside on this trip so we were thrilled to see it covered in snow.

This is a fast digital scrapbook page done with a photo of me being silly in the snow. I am trying to learn some advanced skills in photoshop but I am not sure I am quite ready to give my real scrapbooking up. The real pages feel so good in my hands but they take up so very much room that sometimes I want to switch over to digital scrapbooking. I am conflicted, so I will just keep doing both for now.

Posted in Carnevale Venice 2018 World Travels

Smile !

One of the things that I didn’t know in advance was how many photos would be taken of us by strangers while at Carnevale.  I guess, I thought it would be fun, but I don’t think I ever knew that photographers would come from around the world to photograph those of us in the costumes and masks.  On the first day when we put our costumes on and walked out to San Marco Square we were shocked by the fact that we couldn’t reach the square. As soon as we made our way out of the tiny little street that met up with the Grand Canal we were met with a rush of paparazzi and every single step we took for the next four days was labored.

​With what is a space that feels less than a single square mile and a gathering of more than three million people, it becomes a close encounter quickly in Venice. But the feeling of excitement when you are pursued by thousands of photographers is hard to explain. I remember thinking after a few hours that it was mad that so many people pressed for a photo. We had all kinds. Those who waited patiently in line for their turn and respectfully stepped in to snap a selfie, those who grabbed a hold of you physically and wouldn’t let go until their spouse captured the shot (witch), those that were so adorable you couldn’t resist stopping to snap a photo and hoping that you would later find it on social media and my favorite were those where a guy with a giant camera and self-contained light would pounce on you and start snapping what felt like dozens of photos and before you knew it he was directing you to move left or right and place your hand here and bend like this and had totally taken over the situation. Those are the men and women that you took the time to hand your email address to and just prayed that they would share it with you later. Some of those photos have been shared with us and it has been like an adventure every single day since we got home to search the bowels of the internet for just one more of the thousands of photos that exist now out there somewhere just waiting to be found.



Posted in Cairo Egypt 2018 World Travels

Top Things to NOT see in Cairo, Egypt (And a few you should)

When we arrived in Egypt we had been traveling for a very long time. I think we were about 14 days into the trip. We had been to Paris and Venice and it was not our first time to either, so we felt at ease in both locations.

That was not the case with Egypt.

Of all the places I have ever visited, Egypt is the one that felt the most like I was in a foreign country. It seemed like everything was odd. Simple things seemed different. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I will try.

In the United States we throw trash in a garbage can and a truck comes and gets that, and a bigger truck goes to get that, etc. I don’t even know where it ends up, but it is handled by some type of system larger than I care to think about. Its just the normal way it works here. In Egypt, they don’t handle the trash at all. If you used it, you dropped it when you were done with it. It laid there until it rotted, someone else wanted it or it got covered over with some more trash. I know, it’s a “third world country” everyone keeps telling me. But somehow in my brain I didn’t expect the trash to be like it was. I hate this hotel !

I feel spoiled by our systems. I feel blessed, but also spoiled. I love the magic system that makes old crap go away in the United States. (Yes, I know, I know, we pay for this and we make entirely too much trash but that’s not the topic of this post.) Anyway, it took a minute to get used to what in my head was one, or probably the most amazing places that I have ever been, having so much trash to wade through. How can the world let Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza, the most amazingly, spectacular place left from an ancient civilization just become a trash collection site? It stumps me.

It got me to thinking about home. I started to think of how many times people have came to our area in West Virginia and shook their heads at the crap that people toss out their car windows onto the side of the road. It really makes me angry at my neighbors.

We live in some of the most amazing mountains. The trees are beautiful and green and when you go away from here for a while you really start to need to smell the leaves again and feel dirt and rocks under your feet. I hate concrete worlds. I dream of living in Paris or Venice but so help me, I fear I may miss my mountains.

The night that we arrived in Egypt, it was late. Like 4 in the morning. So, all the things that felt so different stood out more than they would have had we seen them for the first time at say noon, with the lights on. Had we been on our own for the trip, without our guides, I really think I would have ended up spending the whole time in my room. Except, my room was so damn dirty that I couldn’t wait to go someplace else. It was a catch-22. I was afraid to go outside and inside I didn’t want to sit down anyplace.

It sounds like I didn’t have a good time at all but so help me I am so happy that I had this experience in my life. I am sure that I will always think of this trip to Egypt and be more thankful for the simple things that I am blessed to have in my life. Today is Monday. On Mondays the magic truck comes to my house and whisks away the crap that I needed to get rid of and I never see it again. Did I say that I love that?

I guess this journaling has become about the things that I didn’t like instead of about the things that I did. Sometimes those things are worth remembering too, I suppose.

While bitching, I guess I should note the man that came to let us in when we arrived at 4 am to our hotel. We were with a guy who we didn’t know  for sure wasn’t going to kill us, so we were already on edge. He turned out to be a sweetie and had he not been with us during the entire trip I would have been scared to death. He is the only person on our entire trip that did not ask us for money. Seriously, if we spoke to a person, we were asked for dollars. And apparently one of our dollars is worth a butt load of money in Egypt. I suck at exchange but when the pizza you have for dinner costs like 125 of whatever their currency is and you look at your statement later to see that they took something like $12.00 out of your account, I am thinking maybe our dollar is worth more there than it is at home.

The gentleman that let us into the huge iron gate that was protecting us or keeping us out is the case, at the moment, stumbled to the door to let us in and started to grab our luggage. We had tons of luggage since we had our costumes from Carnival still with us. He picked up one of the small bags and then yanked the large one from my hand as if to say, “NO, you must let me carry these”. I thought, okay, this is going to be okay. The man who had escorted us from the airport said in his gentle voice to Bil to just go upstairs and make sure that we were okay before he would leave us there. This just scared me even more that this person was scared for me and he actually lived there. I was scared out of my head at this point, but it was four in the morning and I figured it was far safer inside this place than it was out riding around at four in the morning. I hate this hotel.


I should tell you that the little man that let us in was shorter than me. He was wearing exactly what a costume designer in a Hollywood movie would have him wear. A long dress of an outfit and a sorta turban thing on his head, a fabric belt that tied about his waist and hung long on one side. His skin was a beautiful color chocolate and he had a face that I truly will never ever forget. He was wrinkled and worn, and he had a giant spot of some kind on one side of his face. Funny the things you remember when you think you may need to file a police report later.

I usually just carry my own luggage. I am for sure not used to someone taking it forcefully from my hands. By the time I left Egypt I would learn to just give that crap up and dig into my purse for some money because anyone who yanked things from your hands was doing it because in their world if they could knock you down and drag your luggage from your hand then that meant they had provided a service to you and by Gosh you now owe them some money !

The cost…. only $200.00. Yep, no joke. I mean in the end that only meant $5.00 but they always started high when they set their price, I guess that is so that they can force you to negotiate. It reminded me of my ex-husband. That’s his way of negotiating too. He was awesome at this. Me, I just want the sticker on the thing to say how much it costs at the start. If I pull in to your yardsale I don’t know that I want your old shitty yellow flowered dishes until I see the quarter price tag on them.  Just tell me how much it is going to cost and be done with it. No negotiating, please.

When the little man got to our room he was the first person we had really had any communication with since arriving in Egypt. He dropped our luggage in our room and pointed at things and showed us the absolutely filthy, crap soiled toilet and showed us the funny little bathtub that was completely covered in streaks of some bodily substance that I have yet to identify  and pointed at the extra cover on the beds, which would later become the most valuable commodity in Egypt when I came down with a cold when I woke up freezing to death for the fourth night in a row  and a roll of toilet paper that he had placed on a table for us. Then he stuck his hand out and asked for his tip. I think his words were, “Now, You pay me?”

Okay, I just pretended to not understand a word he was saying. Bil would later pay him but at 4 in the morning I was not ready for my lesson in the exchange of Egyptian to American money.

You get the point. It was not the Trump Towers or anything. But, Just before he left the room he said, “Oh, AND….” And I can still remember the sound of his sandy feet as he drug his slippers across the concrete floor a final time. He reached for the curtain and whipped it back in a sorta Vanna White kind of way and there it was…. The reason we had picked this nasty little hotel over the nice big hotels back in Cairo city….the window slid open and, right there, in the yard, just in front of me, not more than 500 feet from my nose, was the Pyramids of Giza. The Great Sphinx was just sitting right there outside the window.


Yes! I so love this hotel and I have decided that I am totally staying here again someday. For 4 days I would use every single spare moment standing right there in that window trying to soak up just a little more of the amazing view. I don’t think I will ever see anything more spectacular than the view out my nasty little hotel window again. Every morning the sound of muslim chants rang out on the hour at like 5 am. In the distance, it sounded exactly like that Hollywood movie we were working on before. The sun came up and cast shadows on the Great Pyramid and you could watch it move further and further up to the peeks. At night the sun would set and it would illuminate them like I had applied just a little too much saturation to the photograph in my head. In the afternoon, the sun would line up with the top of the pyramid almost like they planned it that way 5000 years ago.

This is the best hotel ever !!!


Everything I can remember about Egypt

Posted in Carnevale Venice 2018 World Travels

Italian Men Fall In Love Quickly

Posted in Carnevale Venice 2018 World Travels

To just not be forgotten

I don’t know that I will ever be able to remember everything that I hope to remember about our vacation to Venice. Some days I really can’t focus because my mind is so cluttered with the memories and it feels like I could never forget a single detail. But the truth is I do. I forget most things that are feelings or moments, sweet and precious. I have photos and I look at them often, but I find that the little things that I write down are in the end the things that I get to recycle and experience again in my mind.

Does that even make sense?

My oldest son is going to be thirty years old in January. That doesn’t seem possible to me. Am I that old? Is my youngest son really going to be 13 in May? Once, I held their little bodies in my arms and fell in love with them. I don’t think I will ever forget those days.

Once, I was published in a book. Like in a library. Those don’t exist much anymore. Libraries or books. But someplace there’s a volume sitting on a shelf with words in it that I wrote and a scrapbook page that I designed. It was amazing, and I don’t think I will ever forget how that felt.

Once, I held a geocaching event and 518 people showed up in my yard. It was the most amazing thing and I don’t think I will ever forget that day.

Once, I stood in front of the Eiffel Tower and I held so tight to the hand of the man that I love truly more than anything that I have ever known. I wore a dress that was huge, and I strolled the streets of Paris like I was a princess and I never take a breath that I don’t think of that day.

Once, I stepped out onto the streets of Venice and for that week, I was famous. Thousands of photographers, mobs of people from all over, pushed and shoved to get a photo of me. It was the single most crazy amazing thing ever and I will absolutely never forget that day.

I am going to live as much of life here as I am able and experience enough that when I am forced to go, screaming and kicking, I hope I can think to myself that I am satisfied with the life I left behind.

Tonight, I watched the movie CoCo with Bill and we both cried at the end. I felt myself thinking that all anyone ever really wants from life is to just not be forgotten.

I pray that somehow in my life I have done something that left a mark large enough that when I am gone someone just remembers me.

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