About Me

I am a frustrated travel buff stuck in the life of an auditor. I was lucky enough to be born to a family that valued travel and adventure. As a teenager I took a trip around the world and my love of travel was undeniable after that trip. I have a job that allows me to travel often and I take photos wherever I go. With my limited amount of sightseeing time I have become something of an expert in the art of Power Sightseeing. I have learned to make the most of my limited time and will gladly share those tips with you. I will add stories and photos to my blog after each trip so please check back often. I never know what wonderful thing I will see next and I would hate for you to miss the adventure. Thank you for enjoying my travel stories and photographs. Please visit my website at for more of my photos.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Power Sightseer's Guide to England day one

You can, in fact, see a lot of England in just a few days.  With a little planning and a lot of Power Sightseeing energy you can turn 4 days into a ton of memories.  Pre-planning was a big help.  I bought the London Pass before I left.  The pass allowed me to skip standing in lines to buy tickets at a lot of sites and also cut the line to get into others.  I also booked my bed-and-breakfast at Cartref House  This place was perfect.  It is walking distance from Victoria train, tube and coach station so travel is a breeze.  The bed and breakfast is family run, super clean and the breakfast was great.  They were more than willing to accommodate my vegetarian diet.

One of the tricks for me was timing the travel.  I left Dallas on Thursday evening, ate my dinner on the plane and took an Advil PM.  That allowed me to sleep pretty well until we arrive bright and early on Friday morning.  Well it was bright and early in London, still dark and way too early in Dallas.

The first thing I like to do in any large city is take one of the city wide bus tours.  You can catch several right from Victoria station.  You get on/off privileges for the entire day.  I generally ride all the way around once which doesn't take very long.  They I go back and stop at the places where I would like to spend more time.  Be sure you take a bus with a live guide as opposed to a recorded tour narrative.  The live guide will give you much more information than a recording ever could.  I was able to take the entire tour and get back to Buckingham for the Changing of the Guard.

While there be sure you check out the gates, statues and gardens in the area.  They are truly amazing and not to be missed.

My next stop on day one was the Tower of London.  

This place is so full of history and things to see plan on a few hours.  I recommend the Yoeman Warder tour.  The Yoeman Warders have been guarding the tower for over 500 years.   There was so much to see I can't begin to list them all.  But, I loved the fact that you can still see carving in the walls from prisoners.  It really makes you wonder who was in prison here and for how long.  

I guess someone loved Edward, Edna, E???  Don't miss the jewel room.  It holds so many amazing things, but they won't let you take photos. I am sure it is a security risk.  One thing I found fascinating was the fact that the the Yoeman Warders still live in the ancient housing on the grounds.  It was interesting to see their laundry hung to dry on the balconies and think of how many centuries of laundry had been hung in the same place.  

That wrapped up my first day.  I returned to my great B & B to plan out my attack plan for the next day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Powersightseer's Guide to Packing

Packing is an essential skill for every Power Sightseer. It can make or break your trip. People have been known to marvel at my superpower packing skills. You know everyone has at least one superpower and this is my only one so don’t make fun.

When I first started traveling I took WAY too much stuff. I finally decided to make a rule. If I didn’t use something on my last trip it didn’t go in the suitcase for the next trip. Pretty soon I could go for a long weekend in London with just a backpack, Morocco for a week with one small carryon and a backpack and I was even carrying things for other people.

Here are just a few of my hard learned tips:

• No matter how special your hair is hotel shampoo won’t mean the end of your perfect do forever. If you think about it, beauty experts say it is good to take a break from your shampoo periodically, so you are really helping your hair. Also, if you do end up looking like something the cat dragged in you can always tell people you are in the next Twilight movie and going for am I am too tortured to wash my hair look. The same goes for blow dryers, rollers, straightening irons, etc.

• Jewelry – seriously??? I am the jewelry queen. The bigger and gaudier the better and I don’t even carry any on trips. Besides it will probably only end up being a tangled jumble of chains, baubles and beads. Your only use for it at that point would be to use it as a weapon in the case of a bear attack.

• Hotels do have laundry facilities or at the very least a sink. You really don’t need a new pair of jeans for every day. Besides jeans are heavy. If your outfit makes you cringe when you think of stepping on a scale choose something different.

• You don’t need four books. If you are really a Power Sightseer you will be too busy to read them anyway. As for travel guides, copy the pages showing things that interest you. Once you have seen the sight you can throw away the page.

• I am the pickiest eater in the world. I am a vegetarian and I only like a few things. On top of that I am a healthy eater fanatic. So I do carry food on most trips. You can go to one of the 99 cent stores and purchase a medium sized plastic contained with a lid. Make sure it fits nicely into your backpack. Fill this with breakable food, pretzels, rice cakes, etc., so you don’t end up with a pile of crumbs. Pick dehydrated soups or rice dishes. I put my protein drink mix into snack sized baggies. Tearing off one corner converts it into a perfect funnel to put the powder into a bottle of water. Bonus – as you eat things you free up space for souvenirs. You can always toss your 99 cent box or use it to transport breakable things you pick up along the way back home.

I will impart more wisdom as it pops into my head. Watch for future updates.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Power Sightseer's Guide to Oregon

OK, I admit it did not sound like one of my greatest ideas, but being the Power Sightseer that I am I know it would be awesome. Spend 2 days drive 872 miles from Seattle down the coast of Oregon to Yachats and cut across through Eugene to Boise, Idaho. I, of course, was right. It was one of the best trips I have ever taken. I had never been to Washington or Oregon so I really didn’t know what to expect. Rain, Sasquatch, trees and the danger of ending up on a post earthquake island was all I expected. Little did I know, the coast of Oregon is a truly wonderful place. Beginning with my sighting of The Goonies’ rock I was hooked.

You remember The Goonies – right? You know cute kids, creepy bad guys, pirate treasure and Cindy Lauper. How could the movie be any better? I loved the fact that I wasn’t expecting the rock, it was just there. This is one of my Power Sightseer’s rules. The best things to see are the ones you never thought of seeing.

Continuing my drive down the coast I went from one small picturesque town to the next. I could have spent forever exploring, but had to just add this trip to my VERY short list of places where I want a do-over. There were lighthouses, bridges, sea lion sightings, something for just about everyone.

This bridge was my favorite. With the mist rolling in and the perfect lighting it was just breathtaking. I spent way too long hanging out here at the little park across the street.

Yachats, Oregon was a really nice place to stop for the night. Everyone in town was very hospitable. I stayed at The Fireside. It was wonderful. I had a huge room with a fireplace, giant whirlpool bath and patio. They even allow all pets. Just outside the door was the most breathtaking beach. It was rocky, strewn with huge pieces of driftwood and more crashing waves than I could ever imagine. I walked up and down the beach taking photos until it was too dark to see.

One word of caution – DO NOT go on the patio to look at the ocean and shut the door behind you while water is running in the whirlpool. Oh yes, I did that. Door is locked. No way off the fenced patio. Water is running. Panic is setting in. All I could think of was water slowly climbing up and overflowing. How would I explain to hotel management? Well you see, it sounded like a good idea at the time… I had to climb up on the fence using the patio chair, jump over all the time hoping no one saw me and run to the office for help. Disaster averted just in time. Water was running over, but still on the tile. I bet housekeeping wondered how many showers I needed to use up all those towels.

The next morning I left Yachats and headed back to Boise. My last adventure was to drive through the Deschutes National Forest and up Mt. Hood. I have to admit the Mt. Hood was a little eerie. You are driving through an enchanted forest full of huge ferns and trees and then the landscape opens up and you are on the moon. The top of the mountain is covered with lava flows. Amazing, breathtaking but very out of your realm of expectations.

Absolutely worth the drive, the time and the effort. I am so going back to Oregon.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Power Sightseers Guide to Charleston

During a visit to Charleston - yes of course for work - I ended up with 3 extra hours before my flight.  I took this as a sign  that I should indulge my sightseeing passion.  I love the old south and quickly settled on a trip to the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.  Located just a few miles from the Charleston airport the Magnolia Plantation gave me a perfect location for sightseeing the power way.   The plantation was founded in 1676 so it was sure to provide me with my history fix as well as possible photo opportunities.  I was thrilled with what I found.  The gardens are beautiful!  There were so many hidden nooks, secret spaces and wonderful treasures I was thrilled.  In addition to the garden  there was a magical Audubon swamp garden that seemed to be from a completely different time and place.  The Magnolia's gardens were so amazing I spent my entire time there.  I never made it to the plantation house that day. Since my first trip I have been back to the Magnolia Plantation every time I traveled to Charleston.  Each time was magical.  Every season offered a complete different experience, unique scenery and wonderful photo opportunities.  

This is one of my favorite photos. I was taking photos of the lovely flowers when this huge bee started buzzing around. I followed him from flower to flower and got several wonderful shots, but this is my favorite. If you look closely there is also an ant on the flower. Apparently it was a very popular bud that morning.

Otherworldly is the only way I can describe this landscape.  The moss dripping from the ancient tree and the reflection in the glassy water below combine to make the scene pull you into another world.  I still feel very peaceful whenever I look at this photo. 

Fall in the swamp gardens proved to be just as beautiful as spring and summer.  Being a Texas girl I don't get to experience the seasons like others.  Don't get me wrong we have four seasons in Texas - Early Summer, Too Hot to Breath, Late Summer and Ice - but it just isn't the same.  We don't have the lovely colors and falling leaves, not to mention the trees for the leaves to fall from.  I really enjoyed seeing all the color that Autumn can bring.

No matter the season, I highly recommend the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens to all of those brave enough to take Power Sightseer challenge and squeeze the most out of every trip you are lucky enough to take.