Regrets… I’ve Had A Few #SwitchersRemorse

“Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention…” ~Frank Sinatra

Oh sure, he only had a few. I’m not buying it Frankie! We’ve all got regrets, I’d wager plenty of them. In my case, far more than I maybe should mention. Like that time in 7th grade I thought I could pull off the Farrah. The Farrah - Switchers Remorse

Yeah, not so much… and my gawd why would any responsible parent allow a child with a forehead that epic to sport a middle part?!

I’d also have to say that I deeply regret the time that I stopped to warm myself – in a towel, post shower – by the wood-burning Franklin Stove in our family room. Who knew the towel would fall? Or that 3rd degree burns on one’s posterior would be far less uncomfortable than having to sit on an inflatable pillow {typically reserved for severe cases of hemorrhoid inflammation in the elderly}  in your 5th grade home room for a month. 

Here is another one; not listening to my inner three-year-old when I hit my teen years and my friends convinced me to go say, “Hi” to the Mall Santa. Though, that regret has spared my kids many an awkward holiday photo.

Not listening to your inner 3 year old - Switchers RemorseSee Frankie, I’ve already gotten through a few regretful moments, and we aren’t even past puberty. I’m starting to question the authenticity of those lyrics, Mr. Chairman. “Too few to mention…” my burnt butt!

Heck, I’ve got nearly endless regrets when it comes to hair alone. The Farrah. The High-Low. The Berlin. The Rachel…. THE SIDE PONY! 

The Side Pony - Switcher Remorse Regrets are what makes life interesting, if you ask me. If we never tried something new {or that latest – regrettable – trend}  and failed miserably at it, how would we ever appreciate the moments of triumph? Or those even more rare, good hair days? 

When that final curtain starts to draw, I want to know that I’ve lived a life that was full of regrets turned into belly laughs, wild stories, and wisdom gained to pass on.  To sit, surrounded by family and friends, and laugh about a life well-lived, THAT will be doing it my way.

Disclosure: As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless I’ve received compensation to think of moments in my life where I made a change (or wish I had – oh, that hair) and share my story with you. #SwitchersRemorse

California Dreamin’ – #IGTravelThursday

California is home, or was. Somehow after over a decade living on the East Coast, I still consider myself a Californian.  It isn’t that I don’t love where I live now, but more that California is a part of me.

That said, I don’t often find myself back home. When I do, I drink it, breath it, take it into me like I might never get back again. Whether it’s toes in the sand on my favorite beach, watching the sun rise out of the desert dunes, or losing myself in the forest, California always sparks the best day dreams – and some of the best Instagram travel stories too.

 

A photo posted by Lara D (@dipaolamomma) on

Nothing beats a California Sunset.  


On horseback, one of my favorite ways to explore anywhere!

 

A photo posted by Lara D (@dipaolamomma) on

And of course, what is better than a California wine to end any day? Doesn’t matter where you are!

 

A photo posted by Lara D (@dipaolamomma) on

The great thing about an Instagram Travel story, is it  stays with you no matter where you are – or how cold it is there!

 

I’ll just pretend I’m back here and ignore the snow outside. #sandiego A photo posted by Lara D (@dipaolamomma) on

Finding travel daydreams on Instagram is one of my favorite things to do. Reeta from House of Anais has taken me all over, from Finland to Slovenia, through lush green fields in England. And that’s just in her post for this week! 

Do you have a great Instagram travel story to share, or want to find more? Join the monthly Instagram travel-related linky hosted by Skimbaco Lifestyle, and click through all the Insta-Travel-Awesome below.

 


Camping vs Glamping

Sometimes in life you have to just give up the fight and resign yourself to certain things. I’ll never enjoy eating foie gras. Sure, I could claim that it’s because of the cruelty involved in fattening up the liver of a duck or goose,  but honestly… eating fatty duck liver? Yuck! I shall never willingly jump out of a perfectly good plane. I am raising hotel kids.

Yes, the woman whose childhood summers involved military surplus tents and solar showers, is raising concierge kids.  In fact, during one stay at a lovely Residence Inn, the youngest picked up the room phone and was appalled to learn there was room service. {Who are these people?}

Frog Pond at Firelight Camps Ithaca New YorkWould I ever be able to show them the joys of camping? Did I even want to? I mean, solar showers sort of suck. Maybe easing them in would be the key… or not.

The teen daughter and I set out to test this theory with an epic road trip to Upstate New York, where we’d be guests at Firelight Camps in Ithaca for a glamping experiment. Would she survive without bell service… and, um… electricity?

I’ve written about Firelight Camps and the whole glamping trend before, but I’d yet fully experience it for myself. {I doubt a pop up tent in a suite at the Four Seasons counts.}  

firelight camps Ithaca new yorkFirst impressions count, and Firelight’s first impression knocks it out of the park, as it sits on the grounds of the La Trouelle Hotel – a quaint resort with some beautiful architectural features.   The camps themselves are behind the hotel, which is a little disorienting at first.

Once you make your way down the the “lobby” tent, where you’re greeted by not only chic-camp decor {think Laurence of Arabia meets the 5 good minutes of Sex And The City 2} but a friendly host, the “awkward” wares off.  Our host welcomed us with local wine {and locally produced craft soda} gave us the lay of the land.. where the bath house is {a real bathroom, with real showers and even a sauna}, what was available on-site, and what wasn’t. There is no electrical outlet in your tent. That said, there are battery operated lanterns that light things up fairly well and do double duty as USB chargers.

Glamping at Firelight Camps Ithaca New YorkThe lack of outlets fades away the minute you step inside your tent and see the REAL bed – with actual sheets, and pillows you don’t have to blow up! Each tent also features a balcony with chairs and a table. Ours looked out over a small ravine and was the perfect spot for enjoying tea with the birds. 

Though there isn’t room service, you can make reservations at the steakhouse that is also located on the property. We choose to head into the town of Ithaca, which is just a short drive away from camp. Ithaca is absolutely charming, and the foodie scene is strong. We had the best meal at North Star Pub {recommended by our host} and enjoyed watching a parade that was part of the city’s annual festival with a theme of “Better Together” celebrating the artist in everyone.

Back at camp, the fire surrounded by a luxury seating area blazed as craft cocktails where whipped up and deep conversations had. There was a fierce game of horseshoes going on as well. Gourmet S’mores? Yeah they had those too.

The bed was sublime. The only bug we encountered was on the outside of the tent, and try though he might, he wasn’t getting through that canvas. Thank god! The frogs sang us to sleep from the nearby pond. 

In the morning we noshed fresh fruit, pastries, and locally produced yogurt topped with the famed granola made by chef/owner Emma Frisch who also happened to be a finalist on Food Network Star Season 10 and is the owner of Frisch Kitchen.  Not your typical hotel breakfast, for sure.

Luxury Glamping Touches at Firelight Camps Ithaca New YorkSo how did Firelight do with the teen? She really enjoyed the bed, got over the no electricity thing, and says that she wants to hike nearby Buttermilk Falls – this from the kid who says “Ugh, nature… it’s all over me!” That I’d have to credit our host with, he was very enthused about all great hiking in the area.

There is a certain serenity to Firelight that I’ve not found at “traditional” camp grounds. While families are welcomed with open arms, I’d caution that this isn’t a place for the rambunctious. That said, it’s perfect for a family like ours who is looking to break out of the suite life and get back to nature without having to sleep on the ground… or use a solar shower.

 

Finding “Happy” with John Muir

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.” ~ John Muir

It was in my late teens that I first found Muir’s book, “Our National Parks.” Admittedly it was a bit of a hard read. It was his passion for the power of natural beauty that stuck with me. Now in my forties, I find myself once again drawn back to Muir’s writings as I search for my own passion and strive to see (and appreciate) the beauty in every day.

The more I learn about Muir, the stronger my conviction that he was a kindred spirit, happily suffering from wanderlust. Imagine what passion it took to travel through Alaska, explore Australia, and visit South America, Africa, Europe, China, and Japan before lay-flat beds in business class!

Muir’s wisdom can be applied to so much more than a hike in the woods, or stopping to smell the flowers. If you take just a fragment of the quote above and apply it to your everyday life, how powerful could that be?

find your happiness in the beauty all around you

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom…”

Maybe it’s aging, or watching my kids strive for their happiness. Perhaps it’s simply a whisper from the universe reminding me that there is more, that I’m missing the point. Whatever the catalyst, I find myself taking small steps in each day to find that freedom and in it a bit of happiness to treasure.

What did you do today to find your happy?

5 Travel Apps & Sites for Creating a Unique Trip

Five Unique Travel Apps and Sites to help you plan your next tripLet’s face it, there are a ton of travel apps out there that do pretty much the same thing. After you’ve found the app that houses all your itinerary info, one for translations, safety and maps, why not look for travel apps that help you go deeper and create a truly unique trip. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Findery

Findery is a treasure map for travelers looking for hidden gems, off the beaten path destinations, and insider info.  Travelers leave little gems, in the form of notes about places they’ve been. Then geolocation wizardry takes over.

Who knew that convince store with the dusty windows was open, let alone that Nepalese family that owns it is cooking up amazing Momo (Nepali meat dumplings)  in the back? Somebody on Findery did – and they left a note which showed up in an alert on my phone when I walked by.

Findery is also great for those of us who love to share our travel tips, but don’t have enough time to get every detail into… say… a blog post. (cough. cough)  I created this Findery note while at an event – and noshing the best warm olives this side of Sicily.

Findery Note on Warm Olives from Fleet Street Kitchen - Baltimore, Maryland

Vayable

Ever found yourself wishing you had a Bestie in every city you visit? That perfect companion to show you around the place? Vayable may be the next best thing.

Locals put together tours that let you dig deeper into the destination. Hit Manhattan for a midnight street food experience. Explore the art scene in Berlin. Get insider info from a member of the White House Pres Corps. 

Spotted By Locals

Want that “Like A Local,” experience but not quite ready to hang out with strangers in a strange town? Spotted By Locals is the way to go.

This site is built of blogs penned by locals with great insights, tips and up-to-date info on the hot new spots in town. Spotted By Locals is a great place to start with your trip planning. Once you’ve built your itinerary and hit the road, the app will be there with helpful city guide maps on the go.

Cookening 

Food is the only universal language. Sharing a meal is sharing of cultures, our sustenance and selves. Cookening is your invitation to the table.

Here you’ll find locals hosting dinner parties for friends and travelers. The food doesn’t get much more authentic than this, but it’s the conversation that makes the meal. Where better to hear about the places you’ll see, the history and future of a city than gathered around the table for a meal.

Dining in the homes of locals has always made me fall deeper in love with a place.  How much different would our world look if we all just shared a meal? 

Creating your own unique trip with Vayable - Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom Spinlister

Getting out and enjoying the outdoors is another great way to connect with a destination. I personally love a bike ride. But it isn’t always easy (or inexpensive) to find a bike to ride. That’s where Spinlister comes in.

I liken Spinlister to the AirBnB of bikes. Owners list their rides on the site and you shop for the right one. They also feature skis, surf and paddle boards too. Beyond getting equipment that isn’t generic rental stuff, you also get to pick the brain of the owner. Where is the best trail for taking photos? What lifts should you avoid after 10:00am? Where is the best beach for avoiding Kooks? Spinlister is like two apps in one when you look at it this way.

Do you use apps when you travel? What’s your favorite site for travel planning? Do tell! I’m always on the lookout for something new – like any good traveler I know there is always so much more to see.

 

As a Verizon #VZWBuzz  Lifestyle Blogger I’m a member of a pretty cool team of Influencers who share information about mobile living. I was provided a device at no charge, from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided.  There has been no editing by a third party, nor any promise of positive feedback.   All opinions are my own – because you deserve nothing less.

 

I have four kids and an opinion.