Bucket List Travel

Photo by stein egil liland on Pexels.com

Seeing the Northern Lights is #1 on my travel bucket list. Seeing all 50 states is #1 on hubby’s travel bucket list. He only has two states left – North Dakota and Alaska. Can you guess where we’re going in 2023?

Our North Dakota trip was actually planned last year, but put on hold until warmer weather and more things opened up. We’ll be visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park and other attractions (and quilt shops!) between Medora and Bismarck in late spring.

The Alaska trip is a joint bucket list trip. I want to see the northern lights, beautiful mountains, rivers and wildlife, visit a sled dog kennel and stick my head in a quilt shop or two. Hubs wants to do the same thing (minus the quilt shops) and add in a train ride. He’s adamant that we go when it’s the best time to see the northern lights.

Aurora season in Fairbanks runs from 8/21 to 4/21. Generally speaking, the later you go, the better your chances to see the northern lights. We also want to experience the Denali Star Gold Dome train ride from Anchorage to Fairbanks.

I’ve been working with a travel company on our itinerary and arrangements. Trying to get everything in on the cusp of the change in season has been a challenge. The travel company is competitive with its trip packages. It also advertises that you can fully customize your trip. Yes, you can customize your trip, but only to a certain point and any customization comes at a significant cost. Exhibit A: the revised quote I received today! :-0

Just for fun, I wanted to see what it would cost if I made my own travel arrangements for the top priorities on our list – airfare, hotels we typically stay at, plus the train ride and northern lights excursions. Drilling down to just the essentials equaled a 50% reduction in costs. Plus, if I make my own travel arrangements, I also have the option to use any available points and miles to cover hotel and airfare, if I want. I also have room to breathe in my itinerary – something the travel company’s itinerary does not. With the cost savings, I can add additional days and and experiences to our trip. The best part? Hubs agreed this trip was definitely worth using our points/miles! Woo-hoo!

One more reason why I’m glad I retired early – no way I’d be able to take this trip if I was still working 5 days per week.

Happy National Quilting Day!

Hope you’re able to spend the day immersed in quilty activities!

This morning I attended a kick-off session for the new Saturday Sampler at Tiny Stitches Quilt Shop. I sat through the hour long infomercial, as the shop owner called it, only to discover that I was supposed to sign up in advance for the project I wanted to make. Silly me, I’d looked at the projects online, but wanted to see them in person before committing to any year long endeavor. This actually turned out to be a good thing. The shop runs two BOM cycles each year. BOM cycle 1 (August start) was closed to new members.. Of course, this was the project that appealed to me! BOM cycle 2 (March start) had limited availability still remaining for one of the projects. My in-person inspection of the available project confirmed my earlier opinion that I did not want to make it, so I left empty-handed. It was not a complete waste of time, however. I now understand how the Saturday Sampler works at this shop. I also got the name of a really good, reasonably priced long-arm quilter who lives nearby AND was able to see actual quilts she’d recently done for a customer (the customer brought them for show & tell).

This afternoon, I’ll straighten up my studio and stream my fave quilty shows on YouTube while I finish up a project:

Stay quilting my friends!

Mystery Readers & Therapy Dogs

My local school district (and former employer) finally let the dogs back in the schoolhouse! Big Girl and I are joining some fellow CAREing Paws teams at Lost Mountain Middle School at the end of the month.

I posted this on FB, along with a picture of Sadie and me after our most recent visit to a high school in a neighboring district. Now, Sadie and I have received a flurry of invitations to visit former colleagues at their respective schools. Two of my colleagues at a former school won “mystery reader of their choice” in a school fundraising contest. They asked if I would bring the dog and read stories to their classes. This will definitely be a fun visit next week!

Therapy dog activities are finally picking up. We have visits to two colleges already scheduled for April & May. I have at least 5 visits to schedule to different facilities since receiving invitations from former co-workers. I’m excited. This has been the missing piece in my retirement activity puzzle. I have a strong feeling the school based READ program will move forward in the fall.

What about that reading teacher job? I decided against applying for the part-time position in a neighboring school district. The work’s fine. The expectation is a 5 day workweek, even for part-time. No thanks. Should I ever need to return to work, I’d rather have a full-time salary if I’m going to give up my freedom 5 days per week. After conferring with our financial advisor yesterday, there is no need for either one of us to return to work unless we want to.

I did apply to renew my teaching certificate for another 5 years. The Professional Standards Commission determined that I have to jump through one additional hoop to get my certificate renewed. Let’s see how quickly my former school district can verify my professional development activities from 2018-2022.