Celebration of Lights: Fort Zumwalt Park in O’Fallon, MO

Hi Beautiful People,

Snow Falling

I hope you had a wonderful Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, any holiday you are celebrating. It is a good time to enjoy family and friends and take in the season. It has been cold all over the country; but it has been very cold in Missouri. The temperatures have been blow freezing for the past two weeks.
Even though I was dealing with a head cold the week after Christmas; my hubby and I wanted to make sure we saw the holiday lights in Fort Zumwalt Park in O’Fallon, Missouri. I felt good enough to bundle up and pack plenty of tissues and cough drops. We would be in the Jeep driving through the park, so we would not be out in the cold the whole time.
The cost was only $10. It was great because its a minimal donation to keep up the park. And we didn’t pay until we were halfway through the tour of lights. We didn’t think that it would be a lot of people in line because of the bitter cold; but it was a good crowd. Everyone was nice and as we drove through the staff suggested we turn on our local radio station where we would hear Christmas background music as we drove through the park. We also turned off our headlights to get the full effect of the lights.

Celebration of Lights – Fort Zumwalt Park in O’Fallon, MO

It made me feel like a kid in a Winter wonderland seeing all the beautiful lights.
The displays were sponsored by local businesses and organizations: the Lutheran Church nearby, and the Girl Scouts, to name a few.

In the collage below, you will see that we actually drove through a twinkling lighted arch, a display with the Grinch who stole Christmas was up too, and shopping display from the Girl Scouts. There were many other displays: from Spiderman, Rudolph, the Polar Express, to the Manger.

Celebration of Lights – Fort Zumwalt Park in O’Fallon, MO

This is one of my favorite displays in the collage below because what we need in our lives and in our world today is PEACE.

PEACE Display

Driving through the display was so relaxing and enjoyable that my hubby and I plan to do this next year. The Celebration of Lights is a great way for the family to get together and enjoy the festivities of the season. If you didn’t get a chance to do this in 2017, please plan to do it this Christmas season by checking to see if you have a holiday lights display or tour in your area.

It’s Not Too Late To Sneak In A Last Minute Vacation This Year

Summer may be almost up, but what’s stopping you from going away in September? It may be traditionally out-of-season, but almost all tourist destinations are open for business. The weather is usually still hot and there are less screaming kids about because they’ve all gone back to school. On top of these reasons to go away in September is the fact that it may be cheaper.
That said, even at a lower rate, a few weeks isn’t long to save up holiday funds. And once it gets to October you are taking a risk with the weather. But don’t worry, you can still get creative and score yourself that last minute vacation break you deserve. Here are a few tips to fund your trip.

Who wants a road trip to Colorado?

Have a long weekend away
A full week may be pushing the boat out a little bit. A long weekend away (say, Friday to Monday?) ould still give you that time away that you need whilst costing very little. You won’t have to book as much time off work either, which could be handy for those that have already booked a lot of holiday this year.

Take advantage of last minute deals – but be wary
Booking a couple days before can get you amazing deals. This is largely because few people are able to simply pac up and go without giving their work a few weeks’ notice and taking care of other responsibilities. The trick is to book off some time a few weeks ahead and let your destination be a surprise until a few days beforehand.

Look specifically for all inclusive last minute deals. Some packages may seem as if they include a lot on the surface but upon closer inspection you may realise certain things are missing such as transfers or baggage costs. A holiday company may then try to sell these to you on top, which could bring the price up – making it less of a deal. Don’t let holiday brokers talk you into buying these extras without adding up the total cost and then comparing that to other holiday deals.

Try a staycation
You don’t have to jet off abroad for a vacation. You may not even need to jump state. You may be able to drive away to a destination nearby for a couple days. This will cut out the expense of flights and transfers/hire car costs. Of course, you may be hedging your bets with the weather, so consider this risk.

Visit non-traditional holiday locations
There are places around the world that you wouldn’t automatically think of for a vacation, but could in fact be the perfect sunny getaway – and very cheap. When looking afar to Asia, forget Bali and big Thai hotspots and think places like Cambodia and Vietnam instead. Swap out the usual Caribbean destination for Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and Ecuador. Forgo the European classics such as France, Spain and Italy for more off the beaten track Eastern European countries like Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. All of these countries still have traditional tourist hotspots if you’re not looking for wild travelling, so you can still relax.

Break up flights
Quite often, having a stop-gap can save you money on flights. Most people avoid breaking up the flight due to the added stress on the journey. However, when you consider the fact that it could save you hundreds, it can be worth it. Be wary of stop gaps that are too short, sometimes longer is better in case the first flight is delayed. You may even be able to stay overnight and fit in a new destination en route.

Go camping
For those that aren’t averse to staying in a tent, camping is the easiest way to save money on accommodation. In a hot country, it doesn’t have to be the rainy ordeal you may commonly associate it with. There are also glamping sites in which the tent is already set up for you. These tents may even have proper beds, heating and electrical sockets for charging up your gear, whilst still costing very little compared to a hotel.

Consider a loan
There’s no shame in taking out a loan in order to pay for a holiday. If you see a great holiday deal but aren’t able to pay for it straight away, why not look into payday loans that could allow you to pay there and then. This could prevent the risk of such a deal disappearing a couple weeks down the line. Most emergency loans will have interest, but you could still make up the costs by being able to secure a cheap deal early rather than paying extra later.

Sell your clutter
On the topic of making money in order to pay for a last minute holiday, why not sell a few items you no longer need. This is an easy and immediate way of gaining some extra funds that could allow you to jet off somewhere hot. Buy and sell Facebook pages and sites like Gumtree are a great way to sell locally online without having to pay added postage charges. There may also be flea markets and auctions in your area that you can sell your stuff at.

Make money from odd jobs online
If your current job isn’t paying enough to make up the necessary funds in a few weeks, why not try doing a few odd jobs on the side to pay for that last minute vacation. The likes of Fiverr allow you to get paid for offering skills to people online. This could be providing a digital skill such as photoshopping an image for someone or building a website. Alternatively, you may be able to make money writing blog pieces. Other odd jobs that don’t require any specific skillset include filling in surveys and donating hair, but don’t expect to earn too much from these.

FTC Disclaimer:
This is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links.

Celebrating The Total Solar Eclipse In Augusta, Missouri

Hello Wonderful People!

I hope you are having an awesome day and that you had an opportunity to view today’s solar eclipse.

Having not experienced any solar eclipse, I wanted to make sure that I experience this one. When I found out that my wife and I live and work so close to the area of totality, I knew it was going to be an awesome experience. When viewing a solar eclipse, it is all about the totality – how much of the sun would be covered by the shadow of the moon. Living in the Gateway City meant that we would just on the edge of totality, like 99.5 percent totality. But 99.5 percent totality is like zero percent totality. It is all or nothing. If it is not 100 percent totality, you don’t get the full effect of the eclipse. You miss out on the seeing the corona and seeing the full effects of the total darkness.

My wife and I decided to take the day off from work and drive to Augusta, Missouri. Being just a little further south and west of Saint Louis meant that we would be in the band of total totality for two minutes and 19 seconds – an incredibly long amount of time compared to other places. Augusta is only forty-five minutes outside of Saint Louis, but it seems like it is a world away. Settled by the Germans in 1836, Augusta boasts wineries, antique shops, and a includes a stop on the KATY Trail. The streets are line with quaint little homes and charming bed and breakfasts; and is home to only 256 people.

Augusta definitely offers that small-town charm and it was evident at today’s eclipse party. It seemed everyone knew everyone; but we fit right in the crowd just like everyone else. We met two men who wondered into town to view the eclipse, just like us. Nick, a Virginia native and recent transplant to Saint Charles; and Gordon, a cross-country bike rider from Georgia. Nick previously worked in journalism and had some extensive experience in photography. But unfortunately, he had left his memory card for his camera at home. We decided to let him use our card to take the photographs with the his camera. He was able to get the amazing photograph shown above. It worked out great because he was still able to get the photographs he wanted; and we got much better photographs than we could have imaged to get. (More about this in a later post.) We also met Gordon who travelled from Georgia to Pennsylvania and then to Illinois on a hunt for his ancestors in a genealogical challenge, as he described it. After finishing up the search in Illinois, he continued his journey to Augusta to view the eclipse.

J and T taking a look at the solar eclipse.

The eclipse proved to be a great opportunity to bring people together and witness such a rare event. For a moment today, we stood together in unity and we all looked up at the sky and forgot about the evils of this world. We need to have an eclipse everyday.

In the coming days, we will share more photos that Nic captured with our memory card and our thoughts about the day.

Four Last Minute Tips To Be Eclipse Ready!

Hello Wonderful People,

If you are like most people, you are probably aware of solar eclipse set to occur tomorrow. Depending on where you are in the United States, you have the chance to be seeing a partial eclipse or be able to view the complete, total eclipse. My hubby and I are fortunate to be living near the path of totality, meaning we will be able to see the total eclipse. Since we live in the Gateway City, we only have to travel a few miles south to be in that path. The Gateway City will actually have a 99% eclipse. You are probably wondering, what difference does it make? For most people, it doesn’t make much difference. But for us, we wanted to be in the totality path because a full total eclipse has not happened in our part of the country for over 500 years.

If you are planning to view the eclipse here as some last minute tips to make it a memorable day.

Having the right eyewear is essential!

There has been a lot of talk about wearing the proper eyewear to view the eclipse. Without any protective eyewear, looking into the sun can damage your eyes and even cause blindness. You do not want to take that chance. Having the right eyewear is essential. We attended a program on eclipses at the Saint Louis Science Center. By attending the program, we received a pair of glasses to use during the eclipse.
It seems like finding the glasses has become harder and harder to find as we get closer to Monday. My hubby had ordered some online a couple weeks back. It said the expected delivery would be two weeks; but they did not arrive within that time frame. Thankfully we received our pair at the Science Center.

If you are fortunate to be able to view the total eclipse, you will want to take off your protective eyewear during this time. Depending on wear you are during this time, the length of totality will vary from about 30 seconds to two minutes and 42 seconds. But during this time it is okay take off the eyewear and view the sun and your surroundings. You will notice that the temperature will drop about fifteen to twenty degrees will the sun is completely blocked out. Birds will be singing their night songs. But if you are not in that path of totality, it is important to keep your eyewear on during the entire time you are viewing the partial eclipse.

After reading more about the eclipse, I learned that you also need to be concerned about your cameras. Taking a photograph of the sun without the proper filter can destroy your camera’s lens. The glasses that you bought so you can see the eclipse can also work for your camera. The eyewear will make it possible for your camera to capture a good quality photo of the sun. We photographed the sun using our cellphone and the eyewear yesterday afternoon. The photo below shows how well it came out. I know if we had not used that eyewear as a filter, we would have not been able to get that good of photo.

Photo of the Sun using eclipse glasses as a filter.

With the proper eyewear, you can view the eclipse where ever you want. We decided to head to Augusta for a viewing along the KATY Trail, not far from the Missouri River. My hubby and I enjoy going to Augusta for walking the trail and eating in the local restaurants. It is a charming small town that is offering a party, with food, music and T-shirts. And it is on the path of totality, so it should be fun time. I know some folks who have decided not to take off from work and may go outside. For something that does not happen but every few hundred years, we definitely didn’t want to miss it.

We wil be back here Monday evening after the eclipse to share with you are experiences of the day. If you are planning to view the eclipse, let us know where you will be and if you are in the path of totality.

JT Travel Destinations: Moab, Utah

Greetings Wonderful People,

Summer is here and it is time to start thinking about your travel plans. Where will you be going this year? Are you looking to save money and stay close to home with a small trip? Or is this the year that you plan the big trip that you have been dreaming of for years? No matter where you go, or how much you spend; the key is to enjoy your time away.

If you enjoy outdoor vacations, Moab, Utah is the place for you. Maybe it is an adventurous hike through the mountains? Maybe it is the adrenaline rush from an off-roading adventure in a 4×4 vehicle is more your speed? Or maybe a peaceful drive, looking at the panoramic vistas of the rock formations is the way you want to spend an afternoon. These adventures are waiting for with a trip to Moab.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, just outside Moab, Utah.

Each year, millions of people ascend to this small town of just over 5,000 people in eastern Utah to experience nature at its finest. Moab is jumping off point for Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and the Colorado River. If you want a vacation where you stay inside all the time, then Moab is not the place for you. But if being outside and experiencing the beauty of God’s amazing creation, then it time set packing.

My wife and I celebrated our Seventeenth Anniversary in Moab last year. I would recommend that you spend at least four full days to get a good feel for the region. One full day at Arches National Park, one day at Moab Giants, Dead Horse State Park and the Island in the Sky region of Canyonlands. A second day in the Needles District of Canyonlands and a fourth day to explore the scenic routes in the area. I recommend spending more than four days if you can do it. Each of the National Parks are large enough for you to spend two to three days in each area and still not see all that it has to offer.

A view of the Colorado River from Canyonlands National Park!

Moab is also home to the nearly-created the Bear Ears National Monument. Mesa Verde National Park near the Four-Corners Point and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park at the Utah/Arizona border are only three hours to the south. Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are also in western Utah. It is possible to combine a trip to Moab with one or two of the these other destinations, but you need to allow about a week or more thoroughly see the area and to fully take in its beauty.

In the coming weeks, I plan to write more articles on what Moab has to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Based on the time that my wife and I spent there, talking with our tour guides and taking time to research the area prior to leaving, we learned many useful tips that made our trip a truly memorable adventure. I will be sharing those experiences and tips you.

Until then, Happy Road Tripping!


How To Pack Effectively For Your Summer Vacation

There is not one thing more exciting in the year than going away on holiday. Not just any holiday, but one that requires a plane to fly you to a far-flung destination with sand, sea and sunshine that you just don’t get at home. Holidays are so much fun to plan, especially when you actually have a destination in mind and you know when you want to go. What isn’t too much fun is packing. Having to stick to a weight limit, checking out the airline rules for what you can and cannot bring in your hold luggage and making sure that you secure bags your properly are all the downers of a holiday.

Image Source

With our packing tips, you can be ready for your summer holiday with little stress and lots of excitement.

  • Luggage: Buying the right luggage is crucial for your trip. Lightweight cases or holdalls that don’t take up too much of your weight allowance is an essential purchase. Depending on the time of year you shop for your holiday, you need to keep an eye out for the best luggage deals and you can check out these awesome Sears promo codes so you can get the most out of your money. Luggage often goes on sale just after the summer months, so if you know you’re going to be jetting off the following year, it makes sense to invest in luggage early. Shop smart and you can add more bikinis to your case instead of wasting weight!
  • Be Realistic: How many times have you gone away and brought seven bikinis plus spares – just in case? It’s not a good idea. Firstly, how often do you change bikini seven times on holiday? Why do you need ‘just in case’ bikinis? What bikini-related emergency do you expect to encounter? Pack smart! You want three sets of swimwear and if you haven’t a clue how, read here on how you can hand wash your smalls so they last you longer. Reduce your case load by a third and bring what you need rather than too much.
  • Accessorize Well: Instead of packing an outfit for every day, pack changing accessories. We all know how a statement necklace can change your look dramatically! This will save you packing trousers and skirts you likely won’t wear at all during your trip, and also make you look amazing.
  • Pack Light: Packing your flip flops but wearing your trainers onto the plane will save your luggage allowance and mean that you keep your feet warm during the flight. Add your essentials to your carry on and bring just one beach towel: your hotel is likely to provide some for showering!

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Holidays take a lot of organization, but don’t drive yourself crazy looking up list after list online before you go. Pack what you need, and always leave breathing room in the case just so you can get a little extra something while you’re away. There’s nothing wrong with extra souvenirs, as long as you have the space for them!

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