A Life Well Lived or WTF?

Day 50 – #100HappyDay Challenge

Read this article in the New York Times by Oliver Sacks titled Sabbath. Im going to give the end away…

And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.

Oliver Sacks, professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, was also a prolific and award winning writer. After listening to RadioLab’s podcast, Oliver Sacks A Journey from Where to Where I was moved to look up the article they referenced that he wrote mere weeks before his death. Here was a man facing his death reflecting on living a life well lived. In the podcast you get a creative glimpse of his last year with audio clips of recordings trying to capture his genius. As I listened to him and his partner’s banter, care and love mingled in a pen scratching frantically, my thoughts kept flying about from the people I have loved and lost to the desire to live a good life, and then to the Sabbath, the day of rest, and what it means.

As the podcast ended, I arrived to the store in search of Kleenex for this cold of mine. I glanced at my phone and saw a message from my older brother’s wife. My heart fell. I called my younger brother, no answer. I left a message. But what do you say to someone who just lost his wife of almost thirty years? Lives just changed.

My thoughts go back to the podcast and the article. Maybe that’s all we can hope is to live a good life. Love while we can. Capture memories. Leave the world a little better or at least none the worst. And then to come into rest on the Sabbath. I don’t know the answer. Maybe you do.

Sending you happiness.

Love, April

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New Kensington, PA

“As America celebrates Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have given their lives in our nation’s wars.” – John M. McHugh


Day One

New Kensington, a small American town nestled between other small towns, is a picture of quaint east coast charm. I love it! 

We began the day at a local family run dinner opened for breakfast and lunch. If you go, go early. The place is busy but worth the wait if your interested in starting the day out with comfort breakfast  food and piping hot coffee poured into thick, old fashioned coffee mugs. After a short wait we were seated at an old school Formica table and we ordered biscuits and gravy, home fries, pancakes, eggs and bacon to be shared around the table. 

Three Rivers Sightseeing-Pirate Adventure

Even though the day was a bit overcast and filled with sprinkles we headed to Pittsburgh to see the city on a river cruise. 


This is a great way to see the city and the beautiful cityscapes that surrounds the Three Rivers. Best of all the hour long cruise is narrated with history and humorous trivia. 


And since the kids were with us, we sailed in the afternoon so they got to interact with swashbuckling pirates in the featured Pirate Show! From balloon sword play, to treasure map hunts to finding hidden gold coins, the kids had a fabulous kid friendly time. The cruise was a hit for all ages! 


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It was a great way to experience the city there is something storybook-like about the city. Maybe it’s a combination of history and modernization or, more than likely, my over active imagination. But I love the rolling green hills with tall trees hiding tiny communities tucked here and there, playing peekaboo from the roadside. 

It was a good day! For a little trivia on the city of Pittsburgh follow the link… fascinating!

Day Two: Falling Water



The rain continued to fall intermittently, but living in Alaska for so long I never let the weather deter me from exploring. Plus we had already purchase tickets! 


Ignoring the bucket of green umbrellas for the arriving guests escaping the light sprinkles, we headed out to the manicured trail snaking its way down to an observation turnout. Miss R had wanted to go on a nature hike but the manicured trail didn’t measure up to this Alaskan kid’s idea of a trail. Go figure! No matter, we had fun exploring the lush surroundings and even splashed in some mud puddles. Before long, the sun poked her head out of the clouds chasing away the drizzle. 

I remembered bits and pieces about Frank Lloyd Wright from college but to see the grounds and the home he had designed was breathtaking. Well worth the trip!

Tip: there’s no photography in the house, and in my opinion, save the cost of a ticket to tour the house if you are with kids. It’s much too restrictive and expensive. Instead spend your time enjoying the trails and your money on a souvenir from the gift shop. Post cards work!





Back to Houston 

The trip quickly ended. With a hug and a kiss I said goodbye. 


Today is Memorial Day and a quiet day at the Pittsburgh airport. With a little time before departure I decided to have lunch at Vino Volo, a little wine bar with a scrumptious menu for hungry travelers. Check it out, if you are in the mood to discover new wines. They offer a variety of wine flights just in case.  As I sit here contemplating Memorial Day and all the fallen heroes I realize how blessed I am. 

Thank you to all who have served or are serving in our finest military. I am extremely grateful to all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country!  

Cheers!

❤️

Audacious – A Texas Wine Begs You To Relax


http://amzn.to/2ruSUcn

I am blessed to have my car back in my possession. To celebrate I pulled up the TexasTravel website and searched for a day trip and discovered a handful of wineries within easy driving distance. Scanning the list I settled on one and navigated my way to Hwy 290. 

If I had given it much thought I would have looked for an alternative route since I’m not a big fan of 290. But once on the construction laden highway I was committed. Following Siri’s directions  I barreled along with a slew of others escaping the city for the day trying to avoid concrete barriers and rocketing vehicles screaming down the road. 

90 minutes or so later, Pulling off the highway onto a rural road, I felt myself relax into my car seat, letting the country road guide me past ranches towards a tiny vineyard tucked away in the rolling hills. To be honest I have no idea where I am. Am I the only one that sometimes still misses old school paper maps? But where would we be without the marvelous Siri navigation?!?


I finally found the slice of heaven in the Texas Hill Country at Peach Creek Vineyards. Stepping into the cool, dim interior I was warmly greeted and the rules of the tasting deftly explained. 


Choosing to sit outside on their covered patio I selected 5 wines to taste while enjoying the easy rocking chair and letting the view of the vineyard wipe away the stress of 290. 

If you get the chance this is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  I indulged in a cheese plate and sipped a few wines. For $8 you can taste 5 wines from the menu. I made it through  3.5 reds and was pleasantly surprised at the flavorful reds. 

Sadly I had to get back on the road so I didn’t partake in the last tasting. Im a firm believer in drinking responsibly, especially if one is driving! Saying goodbye and tucking the complimentary wine glass and bottle of wine I purchased in my trunk I headed back towards Houston, pretty satisfied with my first exploration of the Hill Country. Can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner! 

Cheers!

❤️

Iconic Sights and Sounds of New York City

Get lost in the City with the iconic sights and sounds of New York City.


Cheers!

💕

All Pictures by C. Lagunas and A. Carter

Red is for Sex and Other Fun Lessons In The City 

I want a red pair of boots now – just saying. You can’t possibly not want a pair after watching Kinky Boots. But I’m jumping ahead.

After some down time at the hotel Friday afternoon, we went to TKTS in Times Square to score discount tickets to Kinky Boots. Don’t let the long que scare you. It moves super FAST. When we got there the line was wrapped around the building with gads of people dripping in the rain. Yes, the promised rain had arrived. Wish I had snapped a picture of the que, instead we ended up chatting with a guy exclaiming he had seen Kinky Boots six times and that seven times may be excessive… after seeing it I would tell him to go again.


The Rum House

With tickets in hand and a bit rain soaked, we ducked into a small bar a few doors down from our hotel. The Rum House has a retro, speak easy vibe. It’s cozy, dark space and Rat Pack music playing in the background called for a glass of bubbly.


If you do get to the Rum House check out the menu. It’s old school art with lots of classic cocktails and era appropriate quotes which made for an entertaining read by my iPhone flash light.



From there it was onto Kinky Boots. I won’t spoil it for you. But trust me, it’s big, it’s fun and it’s absolutely a feel good musical. The performance pulled on a few heart strings and then, orchestra ready, lifted in a happy high that had the audience clapping along. Go. You will love it!

Saturday Morning – Good Morning New York!


Great message to start my last morning off! Artist swarm around me as I walked to Bouchons for coffee. Ok. Maybe that’s a hyperbole. But four young men walked behind me going on about scripts and performing for several blocks. I just smiled, shamelessly eavesdropping. Welcome to New York!

Take a walk with me.

 

 


Another Adventure Comes to an End

Like all good things, this weekend is quickly coming to an end. My real life back in Anchorage is calling my name. I stopped at one of the plethora of souvenir shops to pick up a few small items. I can’t leave New York without a magnet!



I’ve been asked lots of times about traveling to and from Anchorage. Let’s just say that it’s a journey. Travel time back to Anchorage will take me about 15 hours. It’s just the way it goes when you live in the Last Frontier. From New York to Seattle and then in to Anchorage.

I hear it’s snowing and it’s warmed up to a toasty few degrees above zero. Let’s go home.

Until next time!

Cheers!

💞

I’m Kicking 2017 off in the Big Apple

Thursday

It’s a rare sunny day in New York City. When looking at the forecast last week planning on what to pack for a long weekend in the city the weather gods smiled on us. It’s a beautiful 45 degrees – perfect for a tour on the Big Bus, Red Line.

Stop 10 and the One World Observatory


Hopping off the bus we made our way to the 9/11 memorial before heading up to the One World Observatory. The thoughts that this visit evokes is profound. Memories of an autumn day years ago surface and I say a prayer.


Head towards the One World Observatory. Pay the ticket price, get in the elevator and prepare yourself. Amazing!


Spend the time to have a bite in the restaurant at the top. Just go. Thank me later after you are served scrumptious bites while savoring the view.




Get Lost

To get acquainted with a city I firmly believe you have to get lost. This is where you find the heart. After walking to an Italian restaurant the hotel concierge suggested and being turned away (note to self: reservation is a must for many restaurants) we stumbled on a jewel hidden away on a side street.

An Italian piano bar! Exactly what was on my wish list from the night before to visit. It was early when we got there and we were the only guests at the time. We pulled up two stools at the bar and ordered drinks and dinner. The service was impeccable and the staff kept us entertained while the place quickly filled up with locals and families.


Rockefeller Center

A trip to New York isn’t complete without a trip to Rockefeller Center. Walking off dinner we landed at the ice rink. It was magical. I couldn’t get enough watching this one guy skate with such grace and who totally makes ice skating look easy. Which it’s not. I tried it years ago and my backside can still remember it. Anyway, he was absolutely amazing.  The pictures do not do him justice.



Friday

Thinking we could wave at a camera and enjoy coffee at my favorite bakery we got up early to greet a gray New York morning. NBC wasn’t filming this morning due to the President’s Inauguration but we did find two seats to perch at in the Bouchon’s Bakery to enjoy coffee and some people watching.





Up Town Bus Ride – Blue Line 

We had just enough time to catch the Up Town Bus to take a ride around Central Park. Great way to see some iconic sites on a chilly day!

Take a quick ride with me in the video below:



Lunch with the President 

Chilled and a bit hungry we stepped into an Irish Pub just in time to watch Donald Trump’s inauguration. Lucky us… amazing how things work out without a plan.

Over a club sandwich and coffee I listened to our new 45th President speak with lots of platitudes and vague promises on making America Great. I’m not sure about you, but I think America is pretty great right now. I’m grateful for the blessings and bounty that surrounds us. But hey, it’s politics and that’s about all  I can say.


The W Hotel



It’s back to the hotel for some chillax time until we venture out this afternoon to score some theatre tickets. Our room on the 56th floor over looks Times Square. What a view!

Until then – cheers!
💞