Friday, June 29, 2012


We did finally make it through New Orleans.  One of the first things we did was walk around Lake Ponchartrain at Sunset.  Beautiful, isn't it?

Lake Pontchartrain!
The next morning we had to hit Cafe' Du Monde for beignets and coffee.  The nice thing about making this a virtual trip is that the beinets have absolutely NO calories whatsoever! :)  We had a dozen each.

Beignets and Coffee at the Cafe' Du Monde

 That afternoon after wandering through the French Quarter we found the Columns Hotel which houses Albertine's Tea Room.  I think that I went to Albertine's many years ago with my mother and Grandma.  Nancy and I had a full afternoon tea; just what we needed after that stroll through town.

Albertine's Tea Room
Entrance To Albertine's Tea Room

We left New Orleans and traveled due west, passing through Hahnville.  It's a rather small little community not too far out of the big town.  Here's the old Homeplace Plantation.  It was a fascinating house to wander through. 

File:Homeplace Plantation, River Road, Hahnville (St. Charles Parish, Louisiana).jpg
Homeplace Plantation, Hahnville, Louisiana

Leaving Hahnville, we came to Lake des Allemandes.  The history of that area is interesting.  Believe it or not, even with that French/German name combination, it was settled by a Scot!  We flew Dan out to pipe for us at sunset that day.

Lac des Allemands
Lac des Allemandes, Louisiana

By the end of last week, we had totaled 364 miles.  That put us right at Convent, Louisiana on the Mississippi River where we saw this. 

Manresa Retreat, Convent, Louisiana

It is a Jesuit retreat (meaning no women allowed) but again the benefits of a virtual tour kicked in and we had a lovely time wandering through the gardens and admiring the art and architecture of all the buildings.  The monks got in a bit of a snit with us being there, so they left and we had the whole place to ourselves.

We have left Convent behind and are on our way to Texas.  It will take a little while to get there, and it will take even longer to get through.  I remember the first (and only) time I drove to Houston.  I made the trip solo from Gainesville, Georgia.  When I got to the border I glanced at my odometer and discovered that I had driven 600+ miles.  Then I looked at the sign and discovered that the other end of Texas (El Paso) was another 800 miles away!

Here is the link to the map we are using.  You can zoom in to see more detail.  New Iberia and Lake Charles, coming up!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Where in the World are Nancy and Virginia?!

First things first.  Our route has changed.  Originally we had a member of the group who very much wanted to see the Caribbean, particularly the Dominican Republic.  Unfortunately, this member had to drop out.  So Nancy and I sat down and talked about how we wanted to get to New Zealand.  We have decided that our route is to go from Irondale, Alabama to New Orleans, then cut over across Texas (watch out, Carol and Ashley!), take some time to see the Grand Canyon, and head on over to California.  I found this link to Google Maps Distance Calculator.  It's a lovely handy-dandy tool that lets you calculate over-land walking distances.  You can swap between map or satellite and get some great close-ups of where you have been.  You may expect to see a good bit more of this little application!

So over the past many weeks Nancy and I have been walking, Zumba'ing (Nancy, not me) and swimming our way west.  We did make a stop in Demopolis along the way, and said hello to the parents of our nephew's wife.  Hi, Scott and Patty! :)

Today as I totaled our miles so far I discovered to my surprise and delight that we had made it to New Orleans!  Yay for us!!  Later this week I'll add some entries about the interesting things we discovered along the way, the places we shopped in NOLA and the lovely tea room where we had afternoon tea (Albertine's ~ the same place I went with my mother and grandmother in the mid-1980's).  So watch for pictures in a day or two.  In the meantime, let us know if you want to join us.  We'll be walking around the French Quarter and along the shores of Lake Ponchatrain.  See you soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Learning to be Inefficient

Yes, I really did mean to type, "inefficient"!
Growing up, one of my heroes was Frank Gilbreath.  You remember him; the father of twelve featured in the book Cheaper By The Dozen?  I loved his efficiency studies and work.  I was fascinated by his approach to getting things done.  I am not always the most efficient person, but it bugs me to waste motion and steps.  I was a nurse and getting things done quickly and efficiently was critically important.  I am a Mom; efficiency is even more critical in this job or I would never finish and get to bed at night!
The magazines are full of little tips on how to get your work done as easily and efficiently as possible.  Put a basket in each room to collect the household detritus; don't carry it back until it is full and then put everything away at one time.  Stack things at the top and bottom of the stairs and wait until you have to make a trip up or down to combine jobs and save steps.  Do everything in one room before moving along to the next.  When hanging out clothes, drape several items over your shoulder rather than walk back and forth to the clothes basket.  You get the idea.
The goal of all of this is to save steps; to make as few steps as possible in a day.  But stop and think just a minute.  If all my steps count toward going to New Zealand, and if I want to get there in my lifetime, maybe instead of taking fewer steps each day I really want to take more.  So I have had to start making a conscious effort to be less efficient.  One day in the late afternoon I glanced at my pedometer and discovered that I was not getting very many steps in.  I think I was only around 2 miles for the day.  I still had some laundry to get done, so I picked up an item in the bedroom and walked through the house to the laundry room.  I walked back to the bedroom and got another item.  I think I carried that whole load of laundry from bedroom to laundry room one piece at a time.  Then I started picking up the clean laundry in the laundry room, carrying it to the bedroom and putting it piece at a time.  For the rest of the afternoon I cleaned house like this.  Of course it took longer to get things finished, but they did get finished and at the end of the day I was over 4 miles for the day.  I also got some rather befuddled looks from my husband ~ who knows me too well and is too wise to say anything!  I did finally explain to him what I was doing and why.  I choose to believe that those choking noises were him expressing his admiration for me and not snorting and choking in an effort to keep from laughing out loud!
The bottom line here is that there is no pressing reason for me to burn through household chores in an hour or less.  If it takes me all morning or all afternoon to get my work done and I can get a little further along my path while I work, so what?!  Remember, I am taking a lifetime to make the trip of a lifetime.  New Zealand, here I come!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pedometer Woes

The first three posts in this series were written in January of 2012.  It is now June of 2012 and the next few posts will be playing "catch-up".  Today let's talk about how we get what we pay for!
Back in January I shopped around a little bit looking at pedometers.  I needed to purchase several, so I did consider the cost of these items.  After looking around at several different stores (WalMart, Academy, and Target), and doing some limited research online, I chose the New Balance pedometer and found that the best price was at Target.  I could get them for just under $10 there and I went with it.  I have liked New Balance merchandise in the past and refuse to buy sports shoes from anyone else (long story for another day).  The price was less than half of what a pedometer costs at Weight Watchers so I got them.  At least they would get us started, right?  These pedometers also did cumulative steps, distance and calories burned.  Unfortunately, they ONLY did cumulative.  They did NOT break down the cumulative on a day-by-day basis.  If you lost one days' worth of data, you lost ALL your data.  They also did not clip onto clothing very securely.  One of our members discovered that and at the same time discovered that they are NOT waterproof (don't ask, but I'm sure you can guess!).  Then we found that the NB pedometers would not record steps unless they were fastened in a rather particular way to the waistband.  If the waistband were tight or if the pedometer were not at a rather exact and particular angle to the ground, no steps would be recorded, no matter how many you took.  Finally, we discovered that they broke quite easily and that if the battery died it could not be replaced without breaking the clip.  Would you believe that even with all this, when my first one died I bought a second one?  After the second one broke, I gave up and gave in and purchased a Weight Watchers pedometer.  That was in early April and I am still in love with this gizmo.  It is important to record your total daily distance data at least once a week.  It only holds 7 days worth of data and at the end of 7 days starts all over again.  But since batteries can die at any time (and do!) getting into the habit of recording that data every 2-4 days is necessary (and it can't hurt to record it daily!).  I am still on the same WW pedometer, the battery seems fine, the clip is sturdy (and comes with a small tether if you want to be extra certain not to lose it), it is not picky about how it is positioned on the waistband, and the battery is easily replaced.  It is more expensive at $25.99 (that's at and I think it costs the same thing at a WW meeting).  But since I have not had to replace it in almost three months and the NB had already been replaced once ~ OK, twice ~ by this time, I think I'm still ahead financially.
So that's that for pedometers.  Next up, learning to be INefficient.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Walking Blog Has Moved!

The trip to New Zealand is now being covered at the following link: Walking to New Zealand.  Also found at  Hope to see you over there!  Meanwhile, I will be posting periodic family stuff back over here....when the mood strikes.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Let's Go!!
I have heard from several friends that they want to join our trip.  Hurray!!  The more the merrier!
Here is what you need to do to join our walk. 
  1. Get a pedometer.
  2. Figure out how to use the pedometer
  3. You might want to grab a water bottle to remind yourself to keep hydrated, and a journal to keep track of progress.  These are not essentials, they are just for fun.
  4. Go to your local library and find any of the Sisterchick books by Robin Jones Gunn.  Read them.  You may read these in any order, although we recommend starting with Sisterchicks On The Loose (the first one she wrote).  
  5. Send me an email that you want to join up.  I will send out group emails periodically. 
  6. Leave a comment and let us know you are walking with us.
There are a couple of ways that you can walk with us.
  1. Start from Irondale AL and walk with us.  Of course you can!  If you are going home every day for work or school and home every night to tend family you can magic yourself to Irondale; after all, we are women!
  2. Start from where you are and design your own trip.  If you decide to do this option, let us know.  I would encourage you to start another blog about your own trip and we can link our blogs together.
The whole purpose of doing this is for women to share life, encourage each other, and have fun (not necessarily in that order!).  Some of us need to be exercising more for general fitness.  Some of us are concerned about our weight.  Others need to have more fellowship (probably most of us!).  Whatever your goals are, join us and let us cheer you on.

Nancy is the picture gal of the week.  This picture is another reason why we are not flying or driving or sailing on this trip.  Can you imagine how much luggage a group of women would need for this kind of trip??!!

So add a comment and send us a note and let's get going; sunshine and sand are waiting!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Getting Set.....

Why Not?!

First things first.  A new blog will be starting (I think) in the next few days.  Stay tuned....

Earlier this week I wrote about traveling and the things that keep us from traveling.  You know, all those grown-up responsibility things?  Just to recap, I have a sister who wants to go some place warm where she can feel the sand and hear the ocean.  I have a sister-in-law who would love to see more of America.  I have a niece who wants to see the Dominican Republic (NOT Dominica...sorry, Megs!).  And I have longed to see New Zealand.

Today the four of us got together and started planning our trip.  Our route (right now) is Birmingham  to the Dominican Republic by way of the Bahamas.  This is the first leg of our trip.  Our start will be Irondale, Alabama to Tifton, Georgia.  That distance is about 268 miles (give or take).  We have already left!  Yup, that's right, we are on our way.  No hotel reservations or worrying about restaurants.  We will be sleeping and eating at home most nights.  Really.  

For Christmas, I gave my fellow travelers a pedometer, a journal notebook, and a water bottle.  Today we set up our pedometers.  We are going to wear them each day and track our distance.  Some of us are also swimming, which counts toward the total; any biking, canoeing, or other activity that moves us will count.  The distance from Birmingham, Alabama to New Zealand is a little over 8,000 miles.  Of course, the distance with our going to the Bahamas and Dominican Republic first will increase that.  We will be finding photos from Google maps to share and if you have pictures from any of the locations we cross that you would like to share with us we would love to see them.  Who knows, at some point we just might get to visit one or two of these places in person!

That brings me to another point.  I've heard from a couple of folks lately that they wish they could travel.  Why not join us?!  All you need is a decent pedometer.  
I found these on sale at Target, here

No passport, no visas, no plane tickets, no frustrating TSA agents, no hotel reservations or Traveler's Checks to buy food.  Just clip that pedometer on and see how many steps you take in a day.  It is much easier to have a pedometer that measures distance in addition to steps, although I guess you could figure that out yourself.  A computer is nice for tracking progress but a paper map works just as well.  Leave a comment every so often letting the rest of us know where you are.  As we hit milestones we will celebrate each others progress.  If you would prefer to travel to Alaska or Borneo, let us know so we can celebrate that with you too.  

This is a new year, with a new start and a new (or maybe just quirky?!) idea.  We would love to have your company!