The ever changing Travel Journal

Everywhere you go now you see people typing on their laptops, tablets, or smartphones.  Visiting a coffee shop now, when you actually want a cup of coffee, is like finding a parking place among all those clicking away on their devices.  While I admire all of these folk’s work ethic it reminds me of my old hand written travel journals. ( It also reminded me of a post on my friend Indah’s gorgeous travel blog Indah’s Monochrome Travel Journal Post who was herself inspired by the following post from PhoTrablogger. )

When I first started traveling I kept hand written notes and used the journals as a place to store my paper memories like receipts, pamphlets, tickets, etc.  In fact, one amusing entry I read went like this…”Damn, I left my glue stick at home!”  That made me laugh.  I used these journals to remember what order I visited places, what the names of all the places were after I forgot them likely 24 hours later, it allowed me to write down what I was thinking, make notes on things to do when I returned, and mostly just to write or track anything I wanted.

Well, previously my journals were all hand written.  On my most recent big trip I used my iPhone instead.  While it was terribly convenient it wasn’t terribly inspired.  After reviewing entries in my old journals it made me realize I never want to use the phone or an app again.  It just isn’t the same as my silly rants, my terrible but amusing drawings, and my glue stick sorry excuse for a scrapbook.

I am now officially on the search for a new glue stick and my next interesting and blank travel journal.  How do you like to track your travels?  Do you still hand write your thoughts?  Do you use a laptop or tablet or even a voice recorder?  I always admire those that write and blog and post while on their vacation but prefer to ruminate over my travels after I return home.

An example of a few of my travel journals one from Costa Rica in 2006 and one from Scotland and Germany in 2000.

Apparently, I felt compelled to illustrate my journey towards Panama. (I missed my calling as a cartoonist.)  😉

I watched the great Leather back Turtles lay their eggs on a sandy beach in the middle of the night and must have been in the mood to draw another little cartoon.  Those little baby turtles are likely now nine years old!

I felt the need to document a tasty candy bar while in Scotland.  (Note: I wrote “Yummy” with an arrow if it wasn’t obvious enough.)  🙂

I always like to keep tickets from anywhere I go as a fun memento.

21st Century & functional yet uninspired travel journal.  ;(

What travel journals or method of tracking your journals do you use? What has worked or not worked? Anyone have a favorite type of journal?

My happy place…part two – Garden of Eden Botanical garden in Maui, Hana Highway

I think it is time to share part two of my Garden of Eden flower series!  (See My Happy Place part one!) The Garden of Eden Botanical Gardens in Maui (along the Hana Highway) are breathtaking.  The location is sublime and the gardens are out of this world.  It is a photographer’s delight.  I only wish I could go back there every few months and always catch whatever is in bloom.

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Belize Butterfly Breeding Sanctuary

While on a wild ride through the Shipstern Nature Preserve in Belize we decided to head to a little dot on the map called the Belize Butterfly Breeding Sanctuary.  We had spent the morning in Corozal Town even having a coat-imundi sighting in the sugar cane fields of Caledonia.  Shipstern Nature Preserve is 22,000 acres of jungle, savanna, and mangrove swamp just outside of the lovely and small town of Sarteneja.  The butterfly breeding center supplies many other countries with pupae to further growth of its particular type of Butterfly.  The center is difficult to find, approximately an hour or so beyond Orange Walk Town, and requires a four wheel drive journey through dirt roads past Mennonite farms and settlements.  The center is funded on donation but has no official entrance fee.  It boasts a lovely Botanical Trail and small educational museum.  But, please for the sake of all that is important to you, bring loads of mosquito repellent.  (It’s as if this is where the mosquitoes go for vacation and they are hungry!)





Believe it or not Butterflies are made in red cups



Beach view in nearby Sarteneja


Lamanai Archaeological Site – Orange Walk Belize

It’s so much fun to fancy oneself as an archaeologist when traveling the world.  My latest attempt at being an armchair Indiana Jones/Dora the Explorer was at Lamanai near Orange Walk town in Belize.

We took a boat tour down the New River from Orange Walk to Lamanai.  We observed all sorts of gorgeous jungle wildlife on the way.  Birds, monkeys, crocodiles, turtles, flowers, and more.  The boat tour provided a lovely home cooked lunch to power up its guests for the walk to come.

Lamanai, which translates to “submerged crocodile”, is a Mesoamerican archaeological site of the Mayan people.  It is a gorgeous and peaceful location mostly shaded throughout with lovely jungle canopy.  It’s highlights are the High Temple, Mask Temple, Jaguar Temple, and the Ball court.  Much of the area still remains unexcavated.  The masks on the Mask Temple are reproductions protecting the originals beneath.

The howler monkeys who live in the area were active while we were on site.  It is an impressive noise one would more associate with a veloso raptor than a monkey.  However, it is effective in keeping pretty much any other animal or human at a distance.

This site was occupied from the 16th century until Spanish conquest.  The site boasts a small museum and a couple of lovely little souvenir shops whose proceeds go to the upkeep of the site.

Of all the archaeological sites I visited while in Belize this was likely my favorite primarily due to the location’s peaceful environs, the wonderful guides, and the enjoyable boat tour to gain entrance.

Jaguar Temple




Mask Temple


High Temple





Our Boat Captain motoring off in to the distance.




Negative Star Dining

I am going to say something that could seem rather controversial.  (Or, at least it does to me anyway.)  I am not a professional food critic.  Nor am I even a novice food critic.  I am just a lover of food and a lover of travel.  But I have a thought.

I believe local street food or local dining, whatever one wants to call it, can and often does beat a four or five star restaurant in quality and ambiance any day.  What?  Who does she think she is making a statement like that?  I am no Anthony Bordain, Food Chanel critic, or French Michelin star aficionado by any means.

But, I want you to look at a photo for a moment and bear with me.  The below photo of this little boy was taken outside of Maggie’s on Caye Caulker in Belize.  He was trying to be like his Grandmother who owned the restaurant.  He was trying to clean and BBQ his own fish.  He was very proud and showed off his fish cleaning prowess to all of the guests much to their pleasure and his grandmother’s chagrin.  He even got a curt warning when he tried to BBQ it himself.  Clearly he wasn’t old enough to do so per his family.  This little interaction in front of this beautiful view was one of my favorite and sweetest memories in all of Belize.  Small local places often have ambiance that one would not necessarily expect.


While in Belize I had glorious street food daily.  (See another post on Street Food.) I had meals that were extremely inexpensive, fresh, and local.  But, what’s more the ambiance of these places added to the food experience.  Eating lobster that was no more than four hours old from the sea at a restaurant where the owner’s children were running around barefoot and free is what eating and traveling is about for me.  Additionally one’s expectations for a knock-out experience are far lower than when that same person makes reservations, valet parks their car, gets all dolled up, and orders four courses off of an expensive menu full of items that are hard to understand.  Now mind you, I have had some delicious and memorable meals at fancy places and I don’t mean to discount them necessarily.   Doing so would probably be silly and against the better judgment of people far more knowledgeable than me.

But eating at a local place feels good for a number of reasons.  I feel like I am giving money to people who truly need it.  I feel like I am getting away with something by paying little to nothing for fresh, local, and interesting cuisine.  I feel like I am learning something about the local people and their food history.  Eating at small places often sparks conversation with other locals or the owners of the establishment.  And, I feel like I often have a memorable experience that oftentimes makes a trip.

I would argue that fresh local “negative star” restaurants outshine any four or five star place any day.    I have experienced this over and over again traveling throughout the world and felt like talking about it on the blogosphere.

Tell me, have you ever had a fresh local eating experience that was memorable that you care to share?  Do you share my regard for street food?