Browsing "travel"
Aug 30, 2014 - My Story, travel    2 Comments

You Go

I debated for a while after I heard. The time. The gas money. The weeknight commitment. I vacillated.

My favorite band of all time, Cool Hand Luke, was playing a small show in Tampa last week. I’ve talked about the importance of this band before. I was sharing my internal debate with a friend when she interrupted me and said, “When your favorite band of all time, whom you’ve never seen live, is playing a few hours from here, you go.”

You go.

I went.

driving Kelly


milkshake, writing, bible

I drove to Tampa, hung out at a restaurant, read, wrote, drank and milkshake and waited for the show. I got to see Mark Nicks of Cool Hand Luke play some of my favorite songs, sing lyrics that remind me of truth, and croon melodies that stir my soul. I learned that there are things more important than gas money and a few missed hours of sleep. I sat on the front row, toes tapping in joy, soaking in the goodness that is beautiful music and powerful lyrics.


mark cool hand luke

I am thankful for people who can encourage me to be adventurous. Those who tell me, “You go!” and remind me of the importance of making memories. Even in the midst of adulthood, when I feel pressure to make the right decision, be responsible, save money, and get to sleep on time, it was nice to be reminded that there is still room for the spontaneous kid to play! I drove home, hit traffic, got to sleep late, but had a smile on my face knowing it was worth it. When something you care deeply about is nearby, you go! Life is an adventure.

What adventure have you embarked on lately?


Jul 26, 2014 - travel    2 Comments

My Daring Escape

I escaped.

Left town.

Turned off my phone.

Didn’t look back.

I went on a cruise to Alaska.

As much joy as excitement as I experienced over the week, I did without some crucial things as well:

1. Cell Service/Wifi

To avoid surcharges from using the ship’s cell tower, I turned off my phone for five days, had no contact with anyone outside my traveling party and loved it. I didn’t miss checking Facebook incessantly or the seemingly constant ding of messages. I did have LOTS of emails to respond to when I returned and that process was somewhat arduous. But I enjoyed being present and not distracted as I spent time with friends who live in different states.

2. Soda

I enjoy Coke. It is a zero-calorie pleasure I at times allow myself. I get caffeine headaches so I was worried about doing without. But since soda was a upcharge on the ship, and I’d determined that I’d spent enough just to get myself on the ship, I wasn’t going to splurge on soda. I didn’t miss that either. I had delightful tea times with friends, sans cell phones!

3. Nighttime

We visited the land of the midnight sun. Literally. The further north we traveled the sun set around midnight and rose again at 3 am. Most of the time we were already in bed before midnight. So I actually was never conscious during the few nighttime hours we had. We barricaded the windows and lined towels around the cracks in the curtains, and slept soundly with bright sunshine outside.Alaska, sun, nighttime

This trip truly was a retreat. I had no idea how quickly ties with these three “essentials” could be cut when I was forced to do without. So often I think that the more things I own, the more they actually own me. I want upgrades or faster models or more options. But this week I learned that I can escape. Just take me away, put me on a ship with good friends, and blackout curtains and I will delightedly not look back.


What holds sway in your life? What would you like to practice doing without for a week?

Jul 23, 2014 - travel    4 Comments

My Alaskan Adventure

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

John Muir

Last week I went on an Alaskan Adventure with two delightful friends, Lisa and Tracy.
Tracy and Lisa set sail


Although many posts could be dedicated to the wonder of this trip, these ladies, and such beautiful countryside, at this juncture you will have to be appeased with some of my favorite photographic capturings this week. May each photo be worth a thousand words to you!

Cruise ship setting sail














MacGyverIf you can’t tell from these pictures, we had a delightful time. I highly recommend answering the call of the mountains!


May 28, 2014 - travel    No Comments

Celebrating Childhood

I love Disney.

When I first moved to Orlando, I had to repeatedly remind others that Disney and Orlando were not synonymous and that in fact, my house was an hour away.

After seven years of living in Orlando, I’ve given into the Disney pull. Last year I purchased an annual pass and have definitely gotten my use out of it.

Last weekend a friend from high school, Beth, was coming into town and asked if I wanted to meet her at the park. (Duh! Yes!) I arrived a bit before Beth and her family did. (She texted to let me know they were en route saying, “Sorry, little girls have short legs!”). So I waited. I found a small spot sitting next to Walt and Mickey in front of Cinderella’s Castle and participated in one of my favorite pastimes: People Watching. I saw lots of people take pictures of the castle. Lots of merchandise being purchased. Lots of parents overwhelmed by their children’s excitement and energy. Lots of color coded neon shirts for school groups. But of them all, this was my favorite sight:

Cinderellas Castle disney

I felt it summarized the magic. One little girl, bedecked with glitterized ears, head cocked to the side enjoying the magical scene. I loved it. I loved the excitement of childhood captured in this image. Her family was waiting for several members and intermittently playing on phones or chatting amongst themselves, but my little friend didn’t stray from staring at the castle. She was focused on the magic.

If I had been in a rush, I would have missed it. It warmed my heart to see a little bit of childhood as I waited for my friends. I took some time to gaze at the castle as well. I want to have a more time for magic, more time for childhood, and less rushing around. My time waiting for my friends became a blessing instead of an inconvenience. But only because I let it!

How can you make room for small moments of magic?

Celebrating Uniquely

This is Tanner.


Perhaps that’s not his best side.

Tanner is my friend, almost like my little brother. We have a funny connection to be able to carry on a conversation exclusively in movie quotes – one of my favorite past times. We love lots of the same nerdy things including the TV show Community. We even greet each other with Troy and Abed’s secret handshake.

Tanner’s birthday was last month and I wanted to do something special for my friend to celebrate him. In one episode of Community the characters play paintball, in another play Dungeons and Dragons, and still another build a blanket fort. But, over the years of friendship between myself and Tanner’s family, we have already done those things! So I had to keep thinking.

It was then that I saw the Groupon for a magical balloon ride. Ding Ding Ding! Behold Season 4 Episode 9 (Yes they are dressed as muppets for this episode, if you haven’t seen Community before, don’t ask questions or try to jump in midstream!)

I took Tanner on a balloon ride, raised up 500 feet to see a 360 view of Downtown Disney, take some crazy pictures and celebrate my friend. To me, it was more than just a ride, it represented our friendship, shared interests, and sense of adventure. While some on the ride clung nervously to the railings, Tanner loved it and kept repeating, “It would be so cool to work here!”


IMG_0523 IMG_0514I was thankful that this gift was my chance to think outside the box and celebrate my friend in a unique way, something that I’ll likely not do for anyone else. In the words of Abed, I think that’s, “Cool, Cool, Cool.”

IMG_0524How can you uniquely celebrate someone in your life?


Apr 30, 2014 - travel    1 Comment

Celebrating Selfies

This is the year of the selfie for me.

I usually roll my eyes when I see a cluster of people posing awkwardly, cell phone outstretched to take their own picture. But this year I’ve whole-heartedly embraced it. Let me amend that, I’ve embraced it — sans “duck face.”

I’ve been challenged by some friends to ride every ride at all four Disney parks some time in 2014. So every time I visit I have to confirm that I did indeed ride every attraction by taking a picture of myself on the ride and log it on a spreadsheet.

Sometimes it is a challenge due to darkness in the ride or fear that I’ll drop my phone! Not only has this bet made me ride things I never have before, but my efforts have yielded some of my very favorite pictures! It gives me a reminder of how well I’m using my annual pass and all the friends who I get to spend time with at the most magical place on earth. And they make me giggle.

Today I celebrate letting the kid in me free, riding Prince Charming’s Carousel for the first time in twenty years, taking my own picture, and enjoying every minute of it.

Disney Tea cups

Kyle splash mountain



Apr 26, 2014 - Humor, My Story, travel    No Comments

Celebrating Self Image

Nothing has the potential to derail my self image more than a four year old constructing my Mii avatar.

Am I the only one who has dealt with this?

My sweet friend, Valor, wanted to play many Wii games with me during our visit and he would not allow me to start until he had customized my Mii. If you’re not familiar, the Nintendo game system, Wii, allows the user to make a character who is supposed to look like them. Face shape, eye shape, hair color, height, build, eyebrows, teeth, smile, and even beauty marks and facial hair are adjustable until the look is just right.

I purposefully did not give Valor any help while he constructed my Mii. He would ask questions about each characteristic and I would say, “Pick the one that looks right.” Wondering what the result would be.

He took his job seriously.

Valor, Mii WiiI found myself cringing a little thinking, “Oh gosh! Do I really look like that?” and “Oh, please make me a little less robust about the middle, Valor.” and “Does my nose really look like a snout?!” and “Do my glasses really eat my face like that?”

Here are a couple of his Mii renditions:

Mii self image kelly valor Mii self image kelly valor

Until I realized that it doesn’t matter what my Mii looks like. It doesn’t matter if Valor makes me hefty, with a snout nose, giant glasses and wonky teeth. It doesn’t even matter what other people see when they look at me. It does matter what God sees. And He looks at the heart. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). He provides me with an accurate self image, as one who is both far more sinful than I can believe and far more loved than I can imagine.

That self image I will celebrate.



Apr 22, 2014 - travel    No Comments

Celebrating Impostors

My legs are extended. My lumbar back is supported. My needs are well-tended to.

And I’m on an airplane.

My flight which was supposed to depart last evening was cancelled due to inclement weather. So I got bumped. As an apology and added perk, I got upgraded to first class for the last leg home.

I feel like a kid, wanting to push all the buttons and play in this new playground. I’ve never gotten to sit in the front few rows before, ahead of the definitive curtain of separation, in a magical land where the glasses are actually glass and the seats recline more than three inches. I don’t even have to angle my feet and knees at odd angles to get them to accommodate both the reclined seat in front of me, my seat-mate’s armrest-hogging ways, and my own bulky baggage. Right now, my toes are free to wiggle with glee.


I could get used to this.

I feel like at any moment my fellow first-classers will recognize me as a newbie. I’ve attempted many times to expose myself already. If they didn’t catch on when I couldn’t get my luggage into the differntly-sized overhead compartment, then perhaps they’d suspect when I ripped the handle on my “carry on” (really a grocery tote bag), and if that didn’t do it then their hunches were likely confirmed when I attempted to gingerly slide my laptop from the aforementioned carry on and simultaneously dumped half of its contents out, raining them on to the other passengers. (Thankfully my travel pillow, snack bag, and small Bible didn’t do any real damage.)

Surely, that would have alerted them to my impostor ways.

I am an imposter. And (since I can’t pass up the opportunity), don’t call me Shirley.

Maybe no one cares. Maybe no one is concerned about me and my glee at this little treat. I may never fly first-class again. So I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts, all 75 minutes of grandeur.

Despite a few debacles, I’m choosing to run toward my impostor status and celebrate delays and perks. Excuse me now while I recline fully and bask in the small things.

first class air plane adjustable seat

first class airplane trip vacation

first class air planeBye, dear first class seat. I hope we meet again!


Apr 16, 2014 - My Story, travel    1 Comment

Celebrating Delays

I have a decision to make.

I can be angry or grateful.

It’s up to me.

I’m currently sitting in the airport after a flight cancellation, delay, and re-routing. I will not be to my final destination for eight hours with a layover in between.

And I’m okay with that.

I am choosing to view this time as grateful time. Free time where I’m forced to sit and write or read or just think. I have to be still. That’s hard for me. I’ve already looped the terminal, bought a smoothie and eaten. There’s nothing else to see. I have another two hours before my flight and no tasks that need to be completed. I always laugh at myself when I pack four books and my computer for a short trip, but this is why. I want options and I want to be able to sit, relax. Who knows, maybe I’ll even pay for a chair massage while I wait! My vacation starts now, not when I arrive at my destination.

It starts now because I’m choosing to let it start.

I’m choosing to celebrate my free time instead of bemoan my delays.

Starbucks AirportIt’s all about perspective.


Nov 16, 2013 - travel    2 Comments

Sky Mall

I am not an obedient flyer. I walk on the wild side. I don’t look at the safety pamphlet in the seat back in front of me.

I go straight for Sky Mall.

It is amazing. It is a game for me to find the most outrageous thing possible. I flip carefully looking at every page — after all, I’ll be squished in this seat for several hours, so no need to rush. My mouth hangs open and I vacillate between thinking, “Who would ever need that?” and “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

I gawked at:

Human sling shots. (The newest craze in outdoor games. ER copayment not included.)

Talking Smurf toothbrushes (Will they sing when they sense plaque?)

Bigfoot: The Bashful Yeti Tree Sculptures (Make those pesky trick-or-treaters wet their pants.)



And a Harry Potter remote control wand (How does it feel that two dead AA batteries can squash your magical dreams?)

I look at these items and laugh, thinking, “Who buys this stuff?”… only I still kinda want one.

I love Sky Mall. It is always good for entertainment. It is a better page turner for me than any People Magazine. But, despite how it’s marketed, I don’t need anything in its pages. I do not want to be ruled by having the latest and greatest stuff. I refuse to keep up with the Joneses. I will draw a clear line between needs and wants and spend my money in that order. I will save where I can and seek to invest in eternal matters.

Thanks for keeping me company on so many flights, Sky Mall. And thanks for reminding me that my money is limited and should be spent wisely.  Looks like my front lawn will have to remain unadorned by a tastefully, shocking Bashful Yeti sculpture. And I’m totally okay with that.

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