Monday, December 14, 2015

Texas BBQ: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Plates!

Preparing the pork ribs at Rudy's BBQ, Austin, Texas (photo by Simone Cannon)

We are spending our winter in Texas this year since we have some personal matters to take care of that require us to stay within striking distance of Houston and decided to make the best of things, so  started hitting the BBQ joints at top speed. When in Rome and all that. For the uninitiated, BBQ in the United States can be very different depending where you happen to be standing in line, which is usually how you will order your meal, cafeteria style with a tray. Sauces (tomato-, mustard-, vinegar-based or none at all), meats (beef, pork, chicken, mutton) and smoking and grilling techniques change dramatically in different regions of the Carolinas, the Southwest or Chicago. Texas, as the state motto makes clear, is a whole other country. The star of Texas BBQ is long-smoked beef brisket with a black pepper crust and sauce served on the side. 

 
Chopping slow-cooked brisket: like buttah! (photo by Simone Cannon)

Well-cooked brisket needs no sauce or, for that matter, no knife. It should just break apart into tasty, tasty morsels. We learned from our more BBQ-savvy friends to always ask for "moist" brisket and ask to see it before they serve it to you. Due to Texas's many cattle ranches, beef is the main meat served, but pork ribs, pulled pork and sausage are usually also available. BBQ is sold by the pound, so if you like pork ribs, which are no question an absolutely delicious, but costly (at $16-$18 a pound) order, ask for pulled pork instead. That way, you are paying for all meat, not bones and fat. And BBQ is not cheap. A couple of slices of brisket, a couple of ribs, some cole slaw, beans and a local craft beer (in my opinion, the only viable beverage option with BBQ) will run you about $25 a person. 

No plates, just juicy, smoky deliciousness (photo by Simone Cannon)  

As always, there are outstanding to mediocre BBQ places everywhere; always check with locals or on sites such as Chowhound or Yelp. Just be prepared for long waits: word spreads far and wide about great places, especially through social media. If you want to sample BBQ at Franklin's, for example, one of the best places in Austin, you can expect to join the customer line at 5am and wait for several hours before being served. They close when they run out of meat, typically around 11am. Austinites regularly pay people to stand in line for them. We found all this out by accident when we asked someone what time Franklin's opened for dinner and he laughed out loud. We visited several other places, which were so-so, but really enjoyed Rudy's which required only a short wait and had pleasant, helpful employees, a good choice of local beers and, most importantly, smoky, succulent meat.  

Slicing sausages (photo by Simone Cannon) 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Si Formidable! The Delicious Food and Welcoming People of Quebec


Wonderful selection of breads at Boulangerie Artisenale Grains de Folie, Amqui, Quebec

We knew we'd crossed over the border into Quebec even before we saw the sign welcoming us to the province. Boulangeries (bakeries), fromageries (cheese shops) and bouchers (butchers) started appearing immediately on the sides of the road. It didn't take long until the RV (of its own accord, I swear), kindly pulled into the parking lot of a charming boulangerie so that its owners could buy some bread and cheese. Despite our abysmally bad French and the owner's equally lacking English, we somehow managed, with a lot of laughing and charades, to leave with 100 grams each of locally made pied-au-vent triple creme cheese, duck and cranberry terrine, raclette with black peppercorns, rustic bread, a couple of chocolate brioche, and a half dozen croissants. Oooh la la!

The cheese selection 

   Recently while traveling in Newfoundland, Luis and I met a couple, Jacques and Carmen from Quebec, who invited us to spend a few days on their small farm, Ferme Aux Trois Vallons in Canton Stanstead. We looked at the atlas and saw that their place was not so far off our route, so we swung by and spent three wonderful days enjoying home-cooked meals and great company. We knew we were in for a treat when Carmen asked us if we preferred farm-raised rabbit or deer for out first dinner. I had found some chanterelles and other foraged mushrooms in woods while hiking, so I brought those in and Carmen and Jacques prepared roast rabbit with the mushrooms along with apples and root vegetables from their farm for a cozy autumnal meal in their charming farmhouse kitchen.

Jacques, Carmen and Luis enjoying the rabbit and chanterelles

 Over the three days we visited, they took us walking around their farm, showing us the various plants and structures they'd built or inherited, including a hunting blind, rabbit hutch and maple-syrup processing hut. They fill their chest freezers with the organic meat and produce that they can access more or less right out their back door, supplemented with the few items that they can't grow themselves. An amazing, generous, lively and active couple, they had done most of the renovations on their 100 year old farmhouse themselves, continued to work the farm and make secondary items such as chocolates or jams and, if that wasn't enough, Jacques is an avid hiker and mountain climber. Having reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at age 69, followed by Mt. Everest's base camp at 70, he was now thinking, at age 74, of climbing the highest mountain outside of Asia, Aconcagua.

Jacques picking dragon carrots from his garden 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

St. John's, Newfoundland: City of Cod Tongues and Resilience


Jelly Bean Row Houses, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada 

After three very windy, cold and rainy days here in St. John's Newfoundland, we've finally given up any hope of hiking the many wild areas near the city and are heading west to catch the Marine Atlantic Ferry from Argentia south from Newfoundland to Sydney, Nova Scotia. We're preparing for a 17 hour overnight trip, in which we'll be sleeping in our seats since we can't enter our motorhome during the voyage and cabins cost an extra $200. Hey, we've done it before in other countries on overnight re-purposed school buses with non-reclining seats, constantly ringing cell phones, goats on ropes and chickens in crates. Although those trips weren't crossing the choppy North Atlantic and the Cabot Strait in September Maritime weather...


The Rooms Museum, St. John's 

We did have one sunny day in St. John's and took advantage of it by visiting the downtown area. We took the motorhome in since it was a Sunday and parking was free. If we visit a city on a weekday, we leave the RV at Wal-mart or a public transportation parking lot and hop the nearest bus/local ferry/subway into town. Last Sunday worked out well though since it was Doors Open, a periodic event across Canada that allows visitors to enter different venues such as museums, galleries and historic sites for free, often also offering free guided tours. 



St. John's has had more than its share of tragedy: the Great Fire of 1892 which destroyed most of the east end of the city and left 11,000 people homeless. the numerous losses of life and vessels of fishers and sealers, an influenza epidemic in 1918 and a tsunami in 1929. When the cod population was depleted in the early 1990s, the federal government put a moratorium on catching the fish and 30,000 people lost their jobs and often, their boats and homes. Despite all of these devastating setbacks, the people remain upbeat, resourceful, friendly and welcoming. During the Sept. 11th grounding of flights, many Newfoundlanders took stranded families into their homes for free for weeks, feeding them and keeping them safe and well looked after until the crisis passed. 


These days, it's going through a gentrification of sorts, in the shabby chic phase, with many of the older stone buildings still standing and turned into pubs, restaurants and art galleries, and with several of the colorful row houses that line the streets above the wharf being renovated. The city has a sort of older-residents-living-happily-alongside-hipsters-and-recent-immigrants vibe: think Portland, Oregon in the 1990s. The people of the city have a resilience and rebuilding mentality that is the result of years of having to do just that. When you live in the North Atlantic on the province known by locals as the The Rock and very near to the precipice of one of the Four Corners of the Flat Earth, you are made of some stern stuff and take it all in stride. You'd have to be to survive local dishes like cod tongues and seal flipper pie.  
  

Friday, September 4, 2015

One Year on the Road and Everyone's Still Alive




Luis and I just hit a milestone: one full year traveling through The US and Canada in a 21-foot motorhome. We racked up 22,000 miles, 32 states, 6 provinces, 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 8 National Parks and 108 bumper stickers and we're starting our second year with, well, actually, high winds and freezing rain in Newfoundland, but also, zest for adventure! When people ask us how it's going, we say "Well, everyone's still alive and married". Whenever friends step into our admittedly-small-by-American-RV-standards motorhome, they usually gasp and say things like "Oh hell no! (unless they're from the south, in which case, they say oh hay-ell no!) I would kill my husband/wife/partner within 10 minutes!" How did we do it? Patience, love, days with some time apart and lots and lots of red wine.    



We also have a lot in common. We both love to travel, enjoy nature and hiking, both agree that watching motor sports is about as exciting as watching paint dry (oh, wait...that's just me). Both think that garage sales and thrift stores are the best possible way to spend a few extra hours on the weekend (um, also just me). Division of labor helps us avoid arguments about whose turn it is to do things. I cook, he washes the dishes. I navigate, he drives, which is just as well since my eyesight is so bad that I can't see a road sign or a moose until I'm right on top of it, sometimes literally...just sayin'. I put the clothes in the washer at the laundromat. I mean, come on, he's a boy; he would throw my cashmere sweaters in with the sneakers and bleach on the hot water cycle. He's on drying and folding because, really, how much damage could he do? 


We both favor experience over passive sight-seeing, with the added benefit of checking things off the bucket list. We are both extremely frugal when it comes to spending money on things such as campsites, food, clothes and supplies, but one thing that we won't skimp on is excursions. We are, after all, here to travel. Rappelling down a wall of Horse Cave? Check. Snow-shoeing across Hurricane Ridge? Check. Sampling the wares on the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky? Check, check. That's what it's all about. That's why we're here. And, most importantly, we're having the time of our lives together. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Orleans, Louisiana: Hurricanes, Voodoo & Jazz

St. Louis Cathedral, French Quarter

I hadn't been to NOLA in years, and in truth, hadn't been much impressed by it on past visits. It was probably the circumstances. The first time I visited I was with my ex-husband and we'd argued most of the trip. The remaining visits had been work-related, so I'd only seen a sliver of the city, usually slogging through muddy streets during the steamy rainy season or through the hazy lens of post-meeting happy hours. And so it was with some reluctance that I found myself trudging into the city again. This time it was post-Katrina and I imagined that the city would be in an even worse state, but I couldn't have been more wrong. 

Frenchman Street, French Quarter

Was it visiting the city in the sunny spring weather with azaleas blooming, this time with someone I actually liked and no meetings to attend? Or had the city been transformed post-hurricane? Many of the crumbling buildings and roads had been repaired, parks had been cleaned up, there were more tourists than ever, but a different kind than before, more wholesome and family-oriented, sober even. It was the best trip I'd ever taken to the city and was made even better seeing it through Luis's eyes. I learned later from several locals that the sudden influx of FEMA money had given the city a face lift, an unexpected benefit of the tragedy. And best of all, the incredible can't-keep-us-down New Orleans spirit was stronger than ever. 

Jackson Square

Of course we had to sample the amazing food: beignets, cafe au lait, boudin, oyster po' boys, etouffeeThere is music everywhere in New Orleans, in the streets, coming from the windows of the bars and cafes, in the concert venues. Even the National Park Service offers free concerts most days of the weeks, and you can listen to incredibly good music for free or for a small donation in the squares and parks of the French Quarter every day of the week. We wandered down the back roads and found brightly painted houses, small local pubs and voodoo shops filled with every charm, curse and amulet that you could want. So far, it has been on of our favorite stops, a city full of life, music, color, mysticism, friendly and helpful people and some of the best food in America. New Orleans is back and better than ever. 

 Cafe du Monde

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Key West, Florida: Jimmy Buffet Has Left the Building

The Green Parrot Bar, one of the few remaining old buildings still standing in Key West (photo by Simone Cannon)

It had been 30 years since I last visited Key West, aka briefly as The Conch Republic , Cayo Hueso (Bone Island) and Margaritaville, thanks to the famous song by Jimmy Buffet. The last stop, both literally and figuratively, on the US mainland. Key West was originally used as a residence for the Calusa tribe, then alternately owned by the Spanish and British, until Florida was ceded to the United States in 1819. The island has a colorful past: it has been repeatedly exploited  over the years by pirates, various countries' military forces, Cubans and Bahamians who cut down the trees, hunted turtles and fished and was used as a base by bootleggers during prohibition in the 1930s and South American drug runners from the 1960s to 1980s. During that period, it was also a place of refuge for people with few other options; quite literally, the end of the road. A laid back place with cheap rent, open bars and beautiful sunsets, where you could relax on the beach, forget your troubles and maybe get a fresh start. 

  A couple cycling in front of the Southernmost House, now a boutique hotel, Key West (photo by Simone Cannon)

When I visited in the 90s, new development was slowly building, but you could already see in which direction the island was moving. Although still charming in its own way, the old Key West is gone. With a few exceptions, the rickety bars and Victorian wooden houses have been replaced by Coach and Express stores, slick art galleries and upscale martini bars. The rents have gone through the roof, on average, $2,000-$4,000 for a one bedroom apartment and the renters and owners, semi-understandably, are intolerant of squatters, including RV dry campers. Years ago, you could park your small motorhome, van or car almost anywhere along the side of the road in the keys, but now, the only camping near Key West is the KOA on Sugarloaf Key at a rate of $104 a night, not an option on our tight budget, so we had to drive from and back to Long Key State Park. Parking has always been difficult, but now it is almost impossible to find a space, especially for a motorhome. After driving around for ages, someone finally told us that we could park for free in the empty lot across from the Eco Discovery Center and walk to the town center. 

Willie T's Bar, Key West

There are still vestiges of the Key West that I remember: you can still walk down the street with a cocktail, you can still see the performers on Sunset Pier at Mallory Square while watching the sunset, and there are still lots of tacky souvenir shops, but the beaches have been taken over by corporate resorts, condos have been built on every square inch of undeveloped land and the island is very much geared to the affluent American and International tourist. Tour buses and hop-on/off trolleys abound, boutique hotels and expensive restaurants are everywhere and privately chartered sports fishing boats are a booming business. Newly arrived residents even tried to rid the island of the famous roosters by hiring a rooster hunter (really), but many of the older residents kidnapped and hid the roosters in their homes to save their lives and the rooster hunter eventually gave up and went home. The long-time residents are trying to hold the fort down for as long as they can, but eventually, the developers will sadly hold most of the cards. Time marches on, development continues and there is a lot of tourist money to be made...I get it, but Jimmy Buffet has definitely left the building.   

At least the roosters are still there...(photo by Simone Cannon)

        


Friday, February 20, 2015

Tarpon, Sunsets and Fishing Boats: The Upper Florida Keys

Catch of the Day, Key Largo, Florida (photo by Luis Bastardo)

When the rep at ReserveAmerica.com  told me that Bahia Honda State Park was fully booked, I was starting to resign myself to the fact that we would not find cheap (or for that matter, any) campsites throughout the Florida Keys. We had arrived in high season and all sites were solidly booked through April or May and we had been unable to reserve ahead of time due to family crises. So I couldn't believe it when she said "Oh wait...two nights just opened up at Long Key State Park for $38 a night; someone just cancelled. Do you want them?" "Yesss!!!!!" I screamed into the poor woman;'s ear. I couldn't believe our luck; it felt like winning the lottery! We had called around and the sites ranged in price from $65 for dry camping with no electricity, water or sewer to $105 for a full hookup, way out of our budget. We thought that we might have to give the Keys a pass until our luck suddenly changed. The next day, we hit US1 for the long drive south. 

Luis feeding a tarpon, Robbie's, Islamorada (photo by Simone Cannon) 

First stop, Key Largo, is in the upper keys, many of which are bedroom communities for Miami commuters. The vibe is laid back: chartered fishing and dive trips, t-shirt shops and casual, waterside restaurants serving items like conch fritters and fish tacos. We stopped at Robbie's to feed the tarpon with bait fish, no simple task with the marauding pelicans nipping at our legs and hands in an attempt to commandeer the fish. We had a lovely waterfront lunch of conch fritters and tarpon tacos (hey, they were well fed) washed down with Islamorada Citrus Ale


Luis at The Hungry Tarpon restaurant, Robbie's, Islamorada (photo by Simone Cannon) 

After a relaxing meal, we headed to our campground at Long Key State Park. We arrived at the small, sleepy park in the late afternoon to catch the last rays of a gorgeous sunset. Our site was just inches away from the small beach and the sea's shallow, tranquil waters. As the sun set, the sky darkened and we were lucky enough to have a moonless night, so we also had a fantastic view of the milky way. Tomorrow, we head to Key West, which should be interesting since I haven't visited in 30 years. Guessin' things may have changed a tad...


Sunset at Long Key State Park (photo by Simone Cannon)


     

  



Friday, February 13, 2015

My Favorite Wildlife Photos: Florida Keys

Here are a few wildlife photos that I snapped during our recent visit to the Florida Keys:

 Green Iguana in mating colors, Islamorada, Florida

 Brown pelicans in a struggle for the same fish, Islamorada

Snow white egret, Islamorada

 Green iguana, Big Pine Key

 Brown pelicans, Islamorada

 Brown pelican Islamorada

 Resting brown pelican, Islamorada

Wading snowy egret, Islamorada

 Cormorants, Long Key State Park

Ibises, Long Key State Park 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Zen and the Art of the Black Water Tank Dump: Ten Life Lessons Gleaned from Full-Time Life on the Road, Part Two:

Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina, USA (photo by Simone Cannon)

6.  Home is Where You Park It: there is no single place that will make you happy or unhappy.  Wherever you travel, you will be there along with the same problems that you have always had. Instead of traveling to escape, travel to liberate yourself by learning how to become more resilient and how to navigate through the obstacles of life. Take advantage of your current location by learning something new and challenging yourself. Experiment with local foods and culinary techniques, get to know local people, learn new languages and customs, hike different trails, try new activities, make new friends. Even if you've lived in the same place for 30 years, there is always something knew to discover. Make the best of every situation, expand your horizons and you will amaze yourself with your new-found courage, joy and knowledge.  


Luis traversing the Amazon jungle, outside of Manaus, Brazil (photo by Simone Cannon)

7.  Don’t Be Afraid to Move On (or Stay):  whenever I have made a huge error in judgment in my life, it has been when I didn't pay attention to my antennae a-quivering. I rationalized away my perfectly sound instincts and was inevitably sorry. If you feel happy, comfortable and gratified in a place, job or relationship, stay. If you don’t, it’s perfectly acceptable to move on. Trust yourself to know if something doesn't feel right. You don’t have to explain, rationalize or justify your decision to anyone, including yourself. Life is shockingly short; it’s best not to waste time hanging around a campsite that's not right for you.  


The Mountains of Montana (photo by Simone Cannon)

8.  Plan Well, Prepare, But Don't be Afraid to Get Off the Beaten Path: anyone can follow the tourist trail, but it takes a brave soul to branch out. Some of the best experiences we've had have been the result of spontaneous decisions or last-minute suggestions from others, partly because there are no expectations, that is, no opportunity to be disappointed, but also because to be unexpectedly delighted and surprised by something is a rare experience indeed. Start out with a basic plan, prepare as best you can, but always remain flexible. There is nothing to be gained by "staying the course" if a wonderful opportunity comes along or if inclement weather is imminent and will ruin your best laid plans. Remain agile and open to new experiences in travel and in life and you will seldom go wrong.  

Luis zip-lining in Bariloche, Argentina (photo by Simone Cannon)

9.     Challenge Your Fears: everyone has a fear of something. That’s fine, natural and perfectly normal; it’s how all living things protect themselves from harm. But don’t let fear run your life. Many of our fears are exaggerated and not helped by the barrage of terrifying stories on popular so-called “news” networks. Challenge your own fears and clearly analyze them. The world is not black and white, there are many, many shades of grey. Open your mind by having an open and respectful conversation with someone who is politically opposed to you, has different spiritual beliefs, comes from a different socioeconomic, ethnic or age group than yourself.  The vast majority of people that you encounter in traveling and in life are helpful, kind, trustworthy and friendly. People all over the world are just like you: they work hard, raise their families, worry about paying bills, and are just trying to live a peaceful and successful life. I've been lucky enough to travel alone to 47 countries and have had overwhelmingly positive experiences everywhere I've been. The generosity of others to a complete stranger continues to amaze and humble me. Don’t let suspicion and paranoia ruin the future friendships and wonderful interactions that you may have. Just once, try something new that you have always been afraid of doing: bungy-jumping, public speaking, sky-diving, traveling alone in a foreign city. If you don’t like it, you never have to do it again. But I promise that you will get at least one thing out of the experience: you will feel stronger and freer than ever before.   


Simone snow-shoeing, Crystal Mountain, Washington State, USA (photo by Luis Bastardo)

10. Don’t set False Barriers to Success:  Just because you've never heard of someone doing something, doesn't mean that it can't be done. Every day we hear people say "we'd love to do what you are doing, but...". The reasons range from money, time, fear, lack of knowledge, etc; all valid but surmountable obstacles. If you really want to do something, you must research, save money, prepare as best as possible and muster the courage to take the leap. The most distressing sentence is "People tell me that I can't do it because "I am a woman/too old/never traveled, am not multi-lingual, etc." things that are a bit more of a challenge to change, to say the least. Don't let other people talk you out of your dreams by letting them project their fears onto you. We constantly meet people who break the mold and you can too. World records are broken regularly by people who didn't believe that they couldn't do it. To paraphrase Henry Ford, "If you think you can or you can't, you're right."  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Zen and the Art of the Black Water Tank Dump: Ten Life Lessons Gleaned from Full-Time Life on the Road, Part One:

Luis and The Chateau, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (photo by Simone Cannon)

Four months ago, Luis and I sold most of our belongings, left boxes of things that we couldn't part with at friends' houses, bought a small motorhome and headed out for a year of full-time RV adventure. Neither of us had ever owned an RV, nor traveled together for that length of time in a space essentially the size of most people’s mud rooms, but we were up for the challenge. We thought ourselves very lucky; how many people have the chance to drop everything and spend a year visiting amazing cities, lush national parks, sparkling beaches, snow-capped mountains and attending festivals around the country? We learnt very quickly that, incredible as the trip has been so far, there are also many, many challenges in creating a successful life on the road. The good news is that many of the things that we have learned also created opportunities for us to develop new skills, make new social connections and generally improve our lives in ways that we couldn't
 have foreseen. We will carry this knowledge with us when (if?) we return to “settled” life. Here, then, just in time for the New Year, are the first five of ten hard-won life lessons: 


Um, I think this is how one empties a black water tank... (photo by Simone Cannon)                                    
1.  You Will Spend Your Days Going From One Problem to the Next: This is less bleak than it sounds. One of best pieces of advice we received (and we received a lot) when we started looking for an RV for our epic year long trip was “as soon as you have resolved one issue, another one will come along, so prepare yourselves”. That tip put us in the right mindset: expect the unexpected, stay positive, go with the punches, learn to be creative, resourceful and resilient. When, in the first few months, our house battery died, we got two flat tires simultaneously, our skylight was shattered by a falling pine cone, our side mirror was smashed by an oncoming driver, our water heater element burnt out, our tanks overflowed, our kitchen flooded and our refrigerator temporarily stopped working, we didn't throw ourselves off the top of our motorhome. We figured it all out via youtube and fellow RVers and felt very proud of ourselves indeed.  

Meeting old and new friends on the road (photo by Luis Bastardo)

2.  Everyone Needs a Support Group: Even a rolling one. Let your guard down, make friends, get references, ask for help, advice and tips from people that have more experience or different skills than you do. Connect with those around you and you will be amazed at the kindness, generosity, innovative ideas, moral support and camaraderie that you will quickly gain. Just knowing that there are people out there who are thinking of you warmly is comforting. Depend on the kindness of strangers. There is no shame in relying on others and you will soon have the opportunity to return the favor when others inevitably need your help.  

Selling everything we can before we leave (photo by Simone Cannon)

3. You Can Live with Much Less than You Think: do you really need 32 pairs of socks? Four flat screen TVs? Eight kinds of cereal? 14 sturdy tote bags, just in case? One of the most liberating things about preparing to travel full-time in a small space is getting rid of excess “stuff”. It can be overwhelming to sort through things, but it is manageable if you do it a bit at a time. Give things to family and friends, donate to a thrift shop, sell them on eBay. Don't use material things as a security blanket or an excuse to stay in one place. Lighten your load and you will move much more easily and quickly through life.    

Jockey's Ridge State Park, North Carolina's Outer Banks (photo by Simone Cannon)

4. You Have to Give up Something to Achieve Your Dream:  If your dream is to be a principal dancer at the NYC Ballet, you have to give up carbs, pedicures, and hours sitting on the sofa watching The Bachelor. If you strive to be a successful, innovative entrepreneur, you have to give up a huge chunk of time spent with family and friends, lots of cash and your fear of rejection and presenting your idea to others. If you want to travel the world on a budget, you will have to give up five-star hotels, regular hot showers and become resigned to carrying your own supply of toilet paper. If you’re selecting an RV, you must choose between living space and maneuverability. You can either have a well-appointed long rig with slide-outs or a small, compact rig with good gas mileage and the capacity to drive down winding roads and park in small spaces. Every dream is worth pursuing, but, regardless of what glossy magazines, internet sites and inspirational speakers tell you, you can’t have it all. Everything comes with a price and it’s better to find out whether you can live with the sacrifice before a lot of time and money is needlessly spent in the pursuit. You have to decide if your dream is worth it. If it isn't, stop now and cut your losses. If it is, Godspeed.     

This should work... (photo by Simone Cannon)

5.    You Are More Talented, Creative & Resourceful Than You Realize: help others when you can, you may be surprised at your own abilities and ideas. Can you sing? Play an instrument? Know a card game? Cook a good meal? Fix a leaking pipe? Sell things on Ebay? Answer legal questions? Wrap a twisted ankle or administer CPR? Organize others? Forage for mushrooms? Jumpstart an engine? You may come in very handy in a pinch. Share your experiences and expertise with others. It often takes a village to resolve a problem. Remember also that learning is a lifelong process: use the obstacles that you encounter to educate yourself so you will be better prepared next time. Read as much as you can, ask a lot of questions, learn something completely new. Don’t be afraid to look silly when attempting to master a new skill (don’t worry, you will).