First Class from Hawaii

I don’t sleep on planes, mainly because I have two sleep disorders, Restless Legs Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. I decided to pay a hefty price to upgrade to first class on the way home from Hawaii. Once before I had flown in first class from Paris when they randomly asked if I’d like to have a seat in that section, but it wasn’t the type of seat that totally lays flat. I felt like a kid, testing all of the buttons in my little pod. If you’re wondering what happened to my hand…when I went out with the meetup.com group, I was showing them a trick I learned in my military days with a stack of cardboard drink coasters and went to grab them and hit my hand on the table. I had to go to Urgent Care, but it healed quickly.

It was fun!

Surfing in Hawaii

I love to capture people in action…like surfing in Hawaii! Skiing, horseback riding, etc.

Some of these photos are from Waikiki Beach and others are from the North Shore of Oahu, that’s where the big waves are.

Photography is fun…especially when people are doing things they love!

Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden

One of the ladies I met thru Bachelor Number Two invited me to go with her and a friend to Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden. It’s so lush, green, and tropical!

These trees were soooo tall!

We stopped at Kāneʻohe Beach Park afterwards.

It was a lovely afternoon!

Hiking Monoa Falls

When researching things to do during my month long stay on Oahu, hiking to Monoa Falls was near the top. Getting there was an adventure. I rented a Biki Bike and biked three miles to a local bus that drops you a mile from the trailhead. Once inside the park, it’s less than a 2 mile hike roundtrip, but then everything in reverse. It was well worth it!

Walking through the park, I had visions of Jurassic Park.

I definitely recommend hiking to Monoa Falls!

Invitation to go Sailing

Remember Bachelor Number Two, I met some women at the barbecue I went to with him and one of them invited me to go sailing! It was a fun day.

It was all women except for the owner/captain of the sailboat. All of the women had varying degrees of sailing experience, so it was interesting to watch him give the orders while he sat.

We went to a sand bar where it’s shallow and you can get out and walk around.

One of the women invited us back to her condo’s hot tub and pool.

Hawaii is definitely beautiful!

Meetup.com is great for solo travelers

I joined Meetup.com back in 2007 after a divorce and it was a great way to meet people. First it was a hiking meetup, then a wine-tasting meetup, followed by others. Thinking of ways to combat my loneliness during my month-long stay on Oahu, I checked out the meetups that were available and joined a few. I ended up going to two events, both were Happy Hours. After a couple of Mai Tai’s, I was hamming it up for this photo 🙂

At the end of the evening…

I met a girl at one of the Happy Hours and she invited me to her pool, which was lovely.

I didn’t have a beach bag with me, so when we walked a couple of blocks from her apartment that she rented for 6 weeks to work remotely, I naively placed my keys, cover-up, and wallet in her bag. After a while, I decided to take a walk on the beach for 15 minutes and when I returned, she had vanished. I called and texted her repeatedly, to no avail. I thought perhaps she had went back to her place, so I walked back and luckily remembered her floor number. My phone was almost dead and there was a guy on the elevator, so I asked him if he had a charger for my type of phone…he did, so I explained the situation and he said if she wasn’t at her place to come to his and I could charge my phone. She wasn’t at her place, so I went to his, which felt awkward, being in a male stranger’s apartment. Anyway, as I’m charging my phone, he was preparing dinner and invited me to dine with him, which I did. She finally called me back (1 ½ hours later) and said she was at the pool bar and for me to join her. I explained I didn’t want to walk back in only my bathing suit and was eating dinner so she said she’d be back within an hour. As soon as she returned, I retrieved my things, checked my wallet in front of her, and could tell she was very inebriated…her apartment smelled like vomit. She wasn’t apologetic. To make a long story a little shorter, just recently (which is 4 months later) I received an e-mail from Walmart concerning a purchase I made, but it wasn’t me (I won’t go into the details, but I could tell it was her). I had to cancel my credit card and change my passwords. Lesson learned!

I took this photo while taking my naive walk on the beach.

Hiking Diamond Head at Sunrise

Hiking is one of my favorite activities and having gorgeous scenery when you’re doing it is amazing! Since I didn’t have a car for my month-long stay in Honolulu, I rented a Biki Bike before sunrise, biked 1.5 miles to the closest Biki Bike station near the trail head, hiked 2 miles to the summit and then back to the Biki Bike station. There were a few people on the trail. It began raining as I approached the summit, which made it difficult to take photos, but the views were beautiful!

As I climbed these stairs, I turned around for the view…

At the summit….Wow!

Hiking back…

The trail began filling up…

Hiking Diamond Head was one of the highlights of my visit to Oahu!

Bachelor Number Three

Since Bachelor Number One and Two didn’t work out, I went out twice with Bachelor Number Three, a surfer dude and native Hawaiian. Our first date lasted for over 12 hours. He picked me up before sunrise at my apartment and drove me around the island sightseeing. Our first stop was to view the amazing sunrise…

He was my favorite of the three, but since it was nearing the end of my month-long stay, we didn’t keep in contact.

A surfer preparing for the day…

This is known as China Man’s Hat…

There are cool rock formations all over the island…

We went to Waimea Botanical Gardens and walked thru the lush gardens to the waterfall where you can swim. I had my bathing suit on and the water was so refreshing!

We stopped for a late lunch and I paid for his as a thank you for the wonderful day!

Upon arrival back at Waikiki Beach, where I was staying, we sat on the beach and watched the sun set. What an amazing day!

Bachelor Number Two

As I said in my last post, since I was spending a month in Oahu, Hawaii in January/February of this year, I thought it would be nice to meet some people, so I had tentative dates set up with three men. Bachelor Number Two had lived on the island for over 30 years and was originally from Germany. I ended up going out with him three times. For our first date, he took me on a 2-3 mile round-trip hike to this spot that hang gliders use. The view is amazing! Obama’s compound is down below. #localsknow

Our view as we approached the scenic overlook.

For our second date, we went out for dinner. I paid for his as a way to say thank you for showing me around.

We drove to the North shore for our third date and I met a small group of his friends at a barbecue. It was fun, but I didn’t have chemistry with him.

This was our secluded bbq site, except for the rooster 🙂

How to Date While on a Solo Vacation

After my husband passed in 2018 I began online dating in 2019 through a few different sites. Dating in your early 60’s is quite different than when you’re younger. I would take a month or two off when I became frustrated with it. I decided to reach out to a few men that lived in Oahu before my arrival in January of 2022 and got to know a little about them.

Bachelor Number One

My first date was with a man that was going through a lot with his ex wife concerning their child. He drove us around the island sightseeing. I bought his lunch as a way to say thank you for his time.

We stopped at various spots for the views. I know many of you would be hesitant to get in a car with a stranger, but I am the type of person to take calculated risks and I listen to my instincts.

Since I’m retired I can move any where and tried to imagine living on Oahu, but decided the island life wasn’t for me. Next up is Bachelor Number Two.

Solo trip to Hawaii

Near the end of last year I planned a month long trip to Oahu, Hawaii for January/February of this year. I wasn’t dating any one and my girlfriends either didn’t have the time, the money, or wanted to travel with their significant other, and I knew I’d want to escape part of the cold winter here in Cincinnati, Ohio (actually I live in Northern Kentucky/5 minutes from Cincinnati), so I found a studio with a kitchen, queen bed, and a balcony just 5 minutes walk from Waikiki Beach thru Booking.com.

Because I’m a planner and am very organized, I found the closest grocery store ahead of time and placed an order to be delivered to my little apartment upon arrival. After settling in, I headed to the beach for the sunset.

I had been to Oahu once before with my late husband and my son (who has also passed) back in 2002 when my son was 15 years old. I forgot how beautiful it is!

It had been a long travel day…time for bed!

2021 in Review

As usual, to escape the cold in Ohio/No. Kentucky, I traveled to Cape Coral, Florida for 5 weeks in late January/early February.  Because I didn’t qualify for the vaccine yet, I again stayed away from people, except for a short trip to see a friend in Clearwater.  It was quite lonely, but I bicycled, walked, and even jogged some.  Went to the beach a couple of days per week to walk, jog, and read.

In March I received both of my vaccines.  So in April I visited Austin and San Antonio, Texas with a friend.  This is the San Antonio Riverwalk.  I spent my honeymoon here with my late husband back in 1994.

I began renting out my spare bedroom/bath to as an Airbnb.  I met some wonderful people – it was like the United Nations – People with roots from the Philippines, Africa, Poland, Mexico, and Jordan.  Amazon employees, traveling nurses, a med student, etc.

I planned a road trip to North and South Carolina to hike and check out waterfalls and some of the towns I’d never been to, like Greenville, S.C. (which I loved), Hendersonville, N.C., (quaint), Bryson City, N.C., Highland, N.C., and Ashville, N.C. (which I had been to).

Lake Janaluska, N.C.

I planned a trip to Alaska for 10 days in July – 2 nights Glacier Bay, 1 night Fairbanks (didn’t see it – just wanted to take the scenic train starting from there heading South), 4 nights Mt. Denali Nat’l Park, 3 nights Anchorage.  This is the view flying into Juneau.

I took a small boat cruise to see a glacier in Glacier Bay National Park

I took the scenic panoramic train all the way to Seward, stopping for 4 nights in Denali Nat’l Park.  I stayed at a lodge located 92 miles (the farthest you can travel) into the park.  And 3 nights in Anchorage.

On the 7 hr. bus ride back to the lodge, we saw some wildlife (I’m not posting all of it).

The guide told us we were so lucky because for the 4 days I was there, Mt. Denali was either in full view or mostly full.

I went hiking with a small group of people…

I went kayaking as a day trip in Seward from Anchorage on the train. 

In September I went to Ft. Lauderdale for 5 days with a guy I dated for a couple of months.  He made me laugh so much, but I found out he was an addict.  I truly had feelings for him after years of looking, and went through some emotional pain.  But, nothing could ever come close to the pain I experience since losing my son.

In October I went to the Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana with a friend…

A couple of weeks after that overnight trip, I had hip surgery.  I’ve been walking and doing exercises and it’s healing.  I also got my booster shot in November.

In December, I drove 1 ½ hrs. to Richmond, Indiana to see a friend and spend the night.  We went to the Warm Glow Candle Factory.

I took a solo day trip (2 hrs.) to Columbus to the Franklin Park Conservatory.  It was lovely.  They had Chihuly glass art mixed in with flowers and the architecture.

While I was in Columbus, I went to a place called Otherworld.  It has over 40 rooms filled with lights and interesting displays.

I also spent two nights in the Ozarks in Missouri with a friend.  It was a long drive – 8 ½ hrs. each way. We hiked at Ha Ha Tonka State Park (odd name) and had lunch at J.B. Hooks Restaurant, which had a fantastic view and the food was pretty good.

I celebrated Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law, as usual.  New Year’s Eve was spent alone, grieving for my son.  That’s his birthday.  I’m hoping this coming year will be less lonely for me.  I’ve planned a month long trip to Oahu in late January/February and a 3 month trip to 5 European countries in the Spring.

2020 in Review (a little late)

The year started with three weeks in Miami, Florida in February on a solo trip. Most of my time was spent bicycling, walking on the beach, photographing, and exploring.

I was gearing up for a big year with my business, Cincinnati Urban Adventures when the pandemic hit.  Suddenly, I was alone with my grief – no travel – no business – no boyfriend.  I went to a local shelter and brought home Grayson, who has been a comfort.

I had two trips previously planned before the pandemic hit – one in May to Utah and Idaho, and the other in August to various destinations in Oregon.  I ended up cancelling the flights for both and drove 4400 miles round-trip out west to Utah and Idaho.

I’d already explored Bryce and Zion Nat’l Parks in Utah years past, so this time I went to Arches and Canyonlands. 

On the drive to Idaho, I spent a couple of nights in Salt Lake City for hiking and also had a masseuse come to my Airbnb for a 1 ½ hr. massage to treat myself on my birthday.  I hiked a 6 mile roundtrip, 3,000 ft. elevation change trail while there.  This was at the top…

Next was Idaho.  This is the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho (where Evil Knievel attempted jumping the mile wide chasm with his rocket, but failed).

Shoshone Falls Park, Twin Falls, Idaho

I visited Sun Valley, Idaho, which I found to be gorgeous.  I rented an e-bike and explored for miles.  I also hiked a lot.  I stayed away from people because of the pandemic.

Then I drove up to Stanley, Idaho in the Sawtooth Mountains and stayed in this cabin on a small river.

There was time spent with friends throughout the remainder of 2020, doing mostly outdoor activities (because of the pandemic). Lots of hiking and also get-togethers at our homes for patio dinner/cocktails.

Madison, Indiana

Rough River Lake, Kentucky for our annual ladies long weekend. I reserved a 5 bedroom/3 bath home on the lake. We rented a pontoon boat and had fun!

Bengals football game

A visit to my cousin’s place in central Ohio. He has built quite the mansion/castle – it has hidden rooms, so many things to look at – very eccentric!

Birds in my backyard…

An outdoor Thanksgiving with family…

My dear friend helped me put up my Christmas tree.  Holidays are rough when you’ve lost your parents, spouse, and only child.

Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law…

All things considered, I was doing pretty well with everything I was going through.   I tried to be grateful for what I had.

2019 in Review (a little late)

2019 was a tragic and heart shattering year.  It began with a trip to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.  I was gone for 18 days with people I didn’t know, on an adventure tour through Intrepid Travel.  After a short introduction to Santiago, Chile…

We took a bus across the Andes

And spent a couple of days at a ranch in Argentina.  I took this time to recuperate from the worst intestinal bug I’d ever experienced.  I had a doctor come to my hotel room because I was so ill and dehydrated.  When you go through the loss of a loved one, it manifests itself physically in addition to emotionally.

We then moved onto Mendoza, Argentina (wine country), which was gorgeous.

Buenos Aires was next on the agenda.  Very vibrant and busy!

Next, we visited the amazing Iguazu Falls, from both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides.

Finally, we arrived in Rio de Janerio, Brazil…

It was an interesting trip, but I didn’t feel like myself.  A week after arriving home, I flew to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the annual Urban Adventures conference, and was ill there also.

In May, I moved to my lovely condo with a beautiful view of the skyline of Cincinnati from the Clubhouse/pool.

I began online dating and was beginning to feel more settled, when my only child, my beautiful boy, Justin passed in July.  If you’re a parent, it’s your worst nightmare.  This is the last photo of he and I taken 3 weeks before his passing.

Unless you’ve lost a child, you can’t fathom the suffering, pain, and grief you go through. He was my universe, my heart. Eleven days later I went on a solo 1,000-mile road trip to Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Toronto.  I was trying to distract myself from the horrific grief.

Detroit, Michigan
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Toronto, Canada

I continued with the travels…next was Three Oaks, Michigan with my girlfriend for a long weekend, where we explored Indiana Dunes State Park.

I climbed Mt. Leconte (3,000 ft. elevation change – 11 miles roundtrip) with a friend

And on the way home, met another friend at Red River Gorge, where I spread my son’s ashes at Whittleton Arch Trail.  He used to love going hiking/camping there.

I led a group on a hike nearby my condo.  I found some solace in the woods.

My next trip was to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, and Death Valley Nat’l Park, California with a friend.

Palm Springs, CA
Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, CA
Death Valley Nat’l Park, CA
Death Valley Nat’l Park, CA

I finished the year with a trip to Cape Coral/Ft. Myers, Florida

I discovered the travel was a temporary shallow distraction, but I continued searching for beauty.

In between the travel, I was working hard continuing to build my company, Cincinnati Urban Adventures. We were having a great year – 2,500 passengers and I now had 7 freelance Tour Guides.

I grieved for my son and sometimes I would feel guilty that I wasn’t grieving for my husband as much. It’s odd that there’s a name for someone who has lost their spouse “widow” and lost their parents “orphan”, but the grief is so heavy and heart-wrenching, there is no word for a parent who has lost their child (only child for me – with no hopes of being a biological Grandmother).