One Month Down

January is typically a quieter time for me but this month has been extremely low key. I’ve been home a lot – stress has played a big role along with weather which has made it difficult to get outdoors for hikes.

This has actually made my No Spend Month a little easier. If you stay home (and away from your favorite online retailers), there’s little temptation to buy stuff you don’t need. Even still, I did have some unplanned purchases – a work function took me to a cute vintage shop which I wanted to support. So I spent $21 on two cute hats.

I ate out more than I wanted because of work travel and ended up exceeding my grocery budget as well. This was mainly because I found some deals that will save money in the long run. Even still, I ate well and came in under what I would normally spend on groceries.

There were a number of opportunities to shop for entertainment, to pick up clearance deals or seek out vintage treasures. However, I was so busy doing other things that I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.

I did buy tickets for a couple of upcoming local shows that I really want to see and I’m ok with that.

Perfection isn’t nearly as important to me as “good enough.” And I did good enough.

My little cat is happy having me home more and I’m better read, having plowed through a big stack of books in January.

I didn’t focus on exercise nearly as much as I wanted, opting instead for more rest. The treadmill isn’t nearly so inviting as the open trail.

In all, January feels like a success. It has been pleasant enough that I’m planning to continue through February with some new exceptions to the rules.

So, there you go. One twelfth of the year is now complete. One twelfth! How quickly did that pass?

All Aboard! Trains In Douglas

If you ever find yourself in Douglas, Wyoming, be sure to stop by Locomotive Park, home to the community’s railroad museum and visitors’ center.

The 1886 era depot serves as the visitors center while the park hosts an assortment of rail cars including a dining car, sleeper, caboose and locomotive.

You can go inside most but there are a couple you have to just admire from the outside. Isn’t this lovely?

The dining car was my favorite.

I sort of expected to find Louis Armstrong playing his horn in the corner.

The town mascot is a jackalope. You’ll find one of their jackalope statues right here!

This museum is free but donations are accepted. There are tables here and some shade, creating a fun atmosphere for a picnic. It’s a great place for adults and train loving kiddos alike!

Healthy Eating On The Go

Eating healthy on the go is tough. Eating healthy and plant based on the go is nearly impossible.

A lot of times I just need something to grab and go, preferably to eat in the car. These choices are deplorable. Yet, when there’s time to sit down for a meal, the choices are almost as bad.

Everything is double meat, loaded down with cheese, packed with sodium and deep fried. It’s all bread and pasta and sad little iceberg lettuce salads that are also smothered in cheese and croutons.

Yuck.

I’ve come to accept that true plant based healthy eating isn’t easy and often impossible in the outside world. A packed lunch can remedy the problem some days but isn’t always feasible.

I have figured out that Meijer is a great source for healthful food. They offer a nice selection of fresh salads and cups of cut up fruits. Some salads have meat while others like their Mediterranean, garden salad or nuts and berry salad are meat free. And yeah, it’s a lot of fruit if the salad contains fruit but it’s better than going hungry!

About $5 for a salad and $2-3 for a cup of fresh fruit and it’s more nutritious than the Impossible Whopper at BK which is the usual alternative.

The above picture shows a salad I had for dinner in Michigan last month and a container of fruit I had bought for breakfast.

When I do have the opportunity to eat in a restaurant at a table with a knife and fork like a real human, it’s fun to enjoy a treat that I normally don’t have. Pizza comes to mind. So does diner grub like grilled cheese or pancakes. I have adopted a sort of go big or go home mentality when it comes to these dining experiences – enjoy the grilled cheese and fries in the great old diner atmosphere but go back to normal eating the next meal.

It’s not a great plan but it works.

So I’m dying to know- what are your healthy eating on the go tips? Bonus points if you have vegan ideas!

It Would Be Fun

Scout’s favorite activity right now is pushing things off of flat surfaces onto the floor. The higher, the better.

I look at this picture and can’t help but think how much he would enjoy pushing this bust over and watching it shatter into a million pieces on the wood floor.

And honestly, I can’t blame him. That would be fun. It’s funny how quickly you start to think like your pet.

Incidentally, this photo is from a tour of Blennerhassett Island last October. I was there just before they closed for the season so I haven’t written about that visit yet. This is close to where I live and a fun day trip so I’ll tell that story before they open for the season.

Happy Birthday Bessie Coleman!

Do you know the name Bessie Coleman? She was born on this day 128 years ago and is an important figure in our history but most Americans don’t even know her name, much less recognize her importance.

This makes me incredibly sad because she’s the kind of woman that little girls everywhere should admire and respect.

Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman and first Native American woman to earn an international pilot’s license. That alone should be enough to give her a place in our history books but the road she traveled to get there is pretty incredible.

Bessie was born to Texas sharecroppers in 1892. After her father left the family, she was raised by a single mother in a house with a dirt floor. She picked cotton as a child and often missed school to care for younger siblings. But she finished the eighth grade and had a burning desire to do something more with her life.

All grown up, she took the train to Chicago where she joined older siblings who were somewhat established in the city. Here she became a manicurist and set to work using both her beauty and talent to network and build a client base.

This was important when she decided to fly.

You see, American flight schools at the time didn’t admit women or black people. But she persevered- she found a better job, saved all the money she could and used her connections to find financial backers.

She also spent this time learning French.

Then she sailed across the ocean to France where racism would not prevent her from pursuing her passion. She enrolled in a flight school where she learned the craft and went on to earn an international aviation license.

The year was 1921 and Bessie was a sensation in the African American press when she came home.

She worked as a barnstormer in this country, traveling all over as an ambassador for black women in aviation. It was her fondest dream to open a flight school for black women someday. She flew and frequently gave talks where she showed footage of her fearless flying.

I struggle to absorb the enormity of this.

The 19th amendment giving women the hard earned right to vote had only been ratified in 1920 so times were much different than we know today.

She was Cherokee, she was African American and she was a woman. Three strikes against her. Three.

And when she was denied the right to pursue her goals, she refused to take no for an answer.

Bessie raised the cash. She learned a second language. She traveled across the sea to a foreign land. She refused to be held back and she fought for her dreams.

What an incredible role model for us all!

Sadly, Bessie’s story does not have a happy ending. She died April 30, 1926 in Jacksonville, Florida during a test flight piloted by her mechanic. You see, she was planning a big show that included a parachute jump the following day. As she leaned out the open air cock pot, scoping the terrain for this jump, she was unable to wear a seat belt.

So when the pilot lost control of the plane and it flipped over mid air, Bessie plummeted to her death. A wrench used to service the plane had jammed the controls. She was just 34.

It makes me sad that her story isn’t celebrated and that hers isn’t a household name where I come from. She is known in the African American community and among aviation enthusiasts but I think her name should be as well known as Amelia Earhart or Charles Lindbergh.

The US Postal Service issued a stamp in Bessie’s honor in 1995 as part of their Black Heritage series. Some roads and schools have been named in her honor but she wasn’t even induct into the National Aviation Hall of Fame until 2006.

Not enough, friends. Not enough. I say we help keep her story alive by telling it to others. Share this story, tell your friends about her. Do what you can to make sure this brave woman, this trailblazer for African Americans and women everywhere is not forgotten.

Meanwhile, Happy Birthday to this brave woman who was taken from us too soon!

Travel Delays and Making Do

Summer vacation plans are underway, causing some reminiscing about last year’s summer vacation. Being human, my brain goes straight to the negative – like the day I spent stranded in the Rapid City, South Dakota Airport because Chicago’s weather was screwing up air travel everywhere.

I found a corner with a comfy couch and an electrical outlet. From this vantage point, I could keep my phone charged while watching people without their notice.

This airport is small but has friendly staff and everything you need including a couple of restaurants. If you’re there, go through security to get to the better of the two. I did not know this and ended up eating a questionable veggie wrap with chips.

The wrap wasn’t great but I had a nice view of the rooftop garden so that made it better.

Plus there was this nice patriotic display, marking the place of American Prisoners of War and Missing In Action soldiers.

And there was this, especially poignant because my vacation pal has a daughter who is Air Force.

Yes, I did take one and yes, I still have it.

The airport also has a few pieces of nice art including this photographic exhibit dedicated to the construction of Mt Rushmore.

Life is what you make of it. The day long delay was unpleasant but it resulted in my being redirected from a layover at O’Hare where I didn’t want to be in the first place to Denver which I didn’t mind at all.

I got back to Columbus late but that gave me an excuse to spend the night with my aunt and cousin and to meet their cats.

All that free time at the airport provided opportunity to go through pictures on my camera and phone and to relax a bit before coming home.

And I tend to believe that when travel plans don’t go as planned, it’s the Universe plotting to keep me alive.

May this be a year of safe travels for us all!