Hot with a 92% chance of muggy

I landed in Arkansas to visit an extraordinary girl that I’ve been able to grow up with and watch develop into a strong woman and nurturing mom. You’ve seen her before in several posts including Dear highway, will you ever end?  and Look Keka, I got a bullfrog! World, meet my cousin (more like a sister) Lana Lane. We didn’t have much time for quirky photos or big events, but we dig snag a picture of the road trip to Oklahoma- me, her and her family. 

Once arriving to Oklahoma we immediately started our giggles with her sister, which of course means my other sister(ish) cousin, Lacie Lane. Things that would never happen in her home: strangers– because everyone’s welcome with a smile, hunger– because she’d give you her last to make sure you’re fed, misbehaving children– momma bear means business! From left to right, Tennesee (Lacies daughter), Lacie, muah and Lana.

We all joined her son in his first soccer game of the season. You’ve seen sweet Dane in the post Time to work hard(ish).Once the cousins went back to their Monday routines I ventured to my family’s house for some sibling summer fun! Kind of strange to be writing after all these years as if you, the audience, knows these kids personally. I suppose if you’ve been following since the beginning you’ve seen them grow from little tykes in Till next time Oklahoma to the most recent in New found higher love.  Now they range from 6-18 years old! 

I was flattered when the boys invited me on a sunrise fishing trip. Just us, a few poles, bait and priceless time to catch up.

The walk home brought a bundle of fish and some growling tummies. I’ll give you one guess on what we ate for lunch…

Wondering what the temperature is in Oklahoma on a sunny September afternoon? 

Hot with a 92% chance of muggy. 

Our cure? Swim! Last year my carefree siblings were livin it up using a horse trough as a pool. Check out the turkey that joined them in the post You know you’re a country kid when… This summers swimming pool? Well from their mouths, “it’s a real one Keka!” (They call me Keh-kuh)

Have I a mentioned how lucky I am to be surrounded by such wonderful energy? These kids are irreplaceable.

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…5 years later

What makes her happy trails so happy? Let me just share a few reasons that have recently been amplified in this beautiful journey I call life. 
First off, we have this glorious planet offering a variety of stunning landscapes and wondrous elements. Then there’s the creatures that keep us intrigued from under the sea to the tops of the highest peaks. Let’s not forgot the loving, creative, crazy humans that enhance the entire magnificent experience.

My last post wrapped up a season in Barbados which sends me off on another trip back to the states to see family and friends. Before I get to that, let’s acknowledge another happy part of these trails. Connection! Simply one of my favorite things about traveling. You meet a stranger on a bus, in a hostel, the line at a market, no matter where the universe allows it, your paths are supposed to cross. Maybe just for that moment, or continuing through a week of friendship along the trail, or even for a lifetime. It’s magical when you recognize a purpose behind every smile you connect with. 

Exactly 5 years ago, I was on one my first solo international trips. I say “solo”, but although I planned this alone, it was on a semi-guided tour with a company called Contiki.. The route took me and 2 dozen other travelers from Italy to France, down through Monaco and ended in Spain where I parted from the group. 

Along the way I met a dozen or so wonderful people that I’m still in touch with today. Here’s a few meeting to reunion photos!

The most recent reconnection was during my travels from Barbados to Oklahoma with an unexpected magical pit stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had a 14 hour layover which meant I had a typical over night stay which entails a cold airport floor with the sounds of the custodians popping chewing gum over the humming of their vacuum. I invite you to check out the posts called Work out and rest up in Asian airports and Floor seats in the Lima airport, unforgettable nights for sure! I’m usually bundled up with every heavy piece of clothing item in my backpack in order to endure the below comfortable temperatures while using my backpack as a makeshift cot. The morning consists of me walking the terminals to get the blood flowing again while waiting for the cafes to open so I can get a cup of hot water for the one single tea bag I keep in my wallet. I take a wet wipe shower in the bathroom and although I brush my teeth with real paste and actual water (verses spit and shine in the back of a camper), it still feels like I have backpackers breath as I board my flight with one eye open and the fleeting thought, “I forgot deodorant”. 

Think 14 hours seems a bit much? Check out 51 hours to get 1/2 way around the world!

Well not this time folks! World meet Karyne (pronounced cuh-reen) She’s another one of the amazing friends I first met in Rome back in 2011. After parting ways in the streets of Spain, Karyne and I remained in contact through good ol Facebook. Now, she’s offered not only her home but a lift to and from the airport and an unexpected dinner out. I sat here for too long trying to think of a creative name for the award she should recieve for her hospitality. I felt so welcome and we spoke like it was just yesterday that we were sipping sangria on the famous Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

Here is our then and now pic (sorry for the blurry photo, it was a good night in France).

Her house was right up my alley with instruments, personal artwork and a beverage cart for all to share. 

What was completely foreign to me however, was her spare room aka her closet!

The morning after our catch up session we hustled back to the airport to say our farewells as I departed for my final stop. Such a better ride than the usual airport shuttle!
Bonus highlight! I met this adorable couple on the flight over. Amanda and Tyler share a passion towards biology, art and travel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see them again, but I can only expect exceptional things in their future. Thanks for the stimulating conversation and supportive energy towards spreading the joy of travel! 

In the next post you’ll see what Oklahoma has to offer me but I’ll close this write up with a collage that shows 3 roads I traveled in 3 consecutive days. Gotta love the beauty in variety! Barbados-Florida-Oklahoma

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PCD (Post Cropover Depression) and the cure.

Kadooment has come to an end. I’ll pause for a moment of silence…

All of the bedazzled costumes have been retired and the closest thing to a mobile drink truck you’ll see is that of the icecream man making his way down the smoldering hot road. Sweet Soca music is now only played 80% of the time, instead of 99% and lastly, the constant nightly parties have dwindled down. This my friends is what some may refer to as the beginning of PCD – Post Cropover Depression. But there’s no need to fear… The beach is still here! (Hopefully some of you children from the 80’s chanted that last sentence in the tune of Wonder Dog). Here’s a few examples of what might bide your time till next carnival season. 

Find a cruise! Search this blog alone and you’ll see several years of celebrations out at sea. A few of the popular companies are Seaduced, Jammin, MC Buccaneer  and my personal favorite, Cool Runnings. This year I tried a new one just to broaden my experience around the island. Here’s the well known “pirate ship” called the Jolly Rogers!

The next boat may be smaller, but the the party doesn’t lack a bit! (enter your own joke here). A typical Sunday on the west coast usually involves several friends, a couple of boats, countless floating items and many memories! Here are just a bundle of shots to give you a glimpse of the fun to be had!

Prefer to be on a board instead of a boat? That’s an easy fix, just check out Ryans Instagram @whatsupbarbados!

Tired of the scene above the Caribbean Sea? Take a peak under, you’d be amazed at what you may find! Photo credit to Ryan Rodriguez and the close ups of these beautiful creatures!

Ooh handstand shot!

Keep yourself busy with evening beach parties! 

Foam fun!

…and sunset memories.

Till next season…

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Tek off somethin and pelt it away!

Instead of repeating myself in describing Cropover and the Grand Kadooment, I invite you to check out my friends from Tree Frog Trips and their post called Beginners guide to Cropover. They do a fantastic job of guiding you through the week of celebrations. On this post, you’re going to get a bundle of photos and a general layout of our fabulous day. Enjoy!

Here are memories from past years. Just click on the title if you’d like to read the entire post.

My first Kadooment!


Second time down de road – 2013

Jump up all day! 2014

So many feathers in 2015!

Let’s start 2016! Costume prepped and alarm is set for dark-o-thirty. This year I was up styling hair for some of the gorgeous girls of kadooment while others were just getting home and going to bed.

 
Who’s open at 3:45 in the morning? The one and only Nina Thomas Salon located in Limegrove, one of the newest malls in Barbados. 

With morning treats and some bubbly to offer, we worked through sunrise prepping for the big day. Fun fact, my first client was actually a repeat client from Trinidad Carnival! Second fact, the stunning girl to the right of the bottom photo is beautiful Nina herself! I was honored to style her hair and had a blast with the others. Thank you Nina for the oppurtunity! 

For more action at this salon please visit Insatgram @ ninathomassalon, click here for their Facebook page and to make an appointment please call 246-622-2385.

So I finished up and flew back to the house to greet my friends arriving. A bus ride and short walk lead us to the main meeting point.

The stage!

Of course a shot for the Handstanding around the world page was a must! My favorite face in the phots below is the full-on head turn and curious frown from the woman on the right in purple.

After a handstand, a few greetings and a feather check, it’s time to cross the stage!

Thank you Blue box cart and your shared photos. You clearly have a talent of capturing the true happiness that stems from the people sporting your costumes and supporting the legend that still continues. To read a small story on the history of this band that started back in 1982, check out the beginning years at Bajanthings.com.

Photo Creds: Myself, Bruce Carroll Mayhew, Maria Hatch, Barbara Greenidge, Craigg Basham, Wave, Zulu, Aura and other random attendees.

After crossing the stage we were ready to hit the road. “De road” is where the music blares an inviting beat for all the participants to chip away in full costume. Thirsty already? Find a drink truck, lift your cup and make a request. These hard working bartenders keep the hydration (or dehydration) flowing throughout the entire trek.

Music pumpin, cup over flowing and friends rallying around… Time for bacchenal!E
St

Everyone looking a little hot? I’m talking temperature, not just those stunning costumes. How do we cool down? We’ve got some options.


1. Tek of somethin and pelt it away!
(Or gently remove it and give it away). Throughout the parade a few of us start removing pieces of our outfits and gifting it to the little ones watching from the side.

2. Find the water showers coming from the side of the road!

3. “Accidentally” get in the way of water truck and dance through the spray! Another option is a good ol fashion snow cone.

You can imagine some of the sights seen from the visitors along the path . Maybe one year I’ll just attend as a bystander with a camera.

As the route hits the home stretch, the crowd starts to thin. Some go home, others head to after parties and a few simply don’t make it to the end. (I’ll spare the photos of those poor fellas). This year, a few of us headed back to the pleasure of an infinity pool with a view of the gorgeous west coast. As exciting as it is to get those costumes on, it’s even more refreshing to take them off! (Enter cheeky grin here).

That sums up yet another year down the road and the beginning of what some call PCD (post carnival depression). How do you over come such withdrawals? That’ll be in the next post!

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A friend I never met.

Every year for Cropover I write about the music, costumes, friends and fun that comes with trekking down the road on the first Monday of August. This year marks a different kind of post with an unexpected turn of events. I say with a heavy heart that the world lost a well known “happy go lucky” girl during the Grand Kadooment. As the participants split to let the ambulance go through, I believe nobody could fathom the purpose of this emergency vehicle. August 1, 2016 Renee Sheppard Ratcliffe had callapsed and was taken away to rest in peace.

Renee was a leader in events and was often called upon for a “good belly laugh” or “sincere hug”. “You either loved her or hated to love her becasue she was real… All of the time”. 

I use quotes because I personally never got the privilege of meeting Renee, these are just words I’m hearing from my friends who knew her well. With a passion for life she was very active in the community, often reaching beyond the call of duty and supporting local gatherings. From Cropover to her twin boys, it seems Renee had a abundunce of loving energy and an unstoppable driving force. 

Judging alone from the photos being spread around, who wouldn’t want to be this girls friend?! The smiles, the mid laughter snap shots, her enthusiasm for well… Everything! From her admiration of dragonflies to the color purple, Renee has made an impression that will stick with the loved ones she departed from as well as the strangers (like myself) that now know of her spirit.


I watched the shock spread across the crowd as the day progressed, the struggle was clear. Do we all go home and try to absorb what had just happened or should we power through and continue jumping in her name. Considering she was a bandleader and designer, Cropover was when she was in her highest of element. In fact, she had just been interviewed prior to us taking the road. I believe her passion for this celebration guided most to live it up even harder and finish strong as Renee, (from the sounds of it) wouldn’t of wanted it any other way. 

After the costumes were retired and all settled down, the island joined to honor her name with a proper setting and peaceful ceremony. 

Renee, I thank you for the impact you’ve recently made in the world that surrounds me. Your story is just one more addition amplifying my gratitude for this fragile life. I’ll allow your quick departure to be a positive reality check in my own daily routine… that I don’t pass up the opportunity to greet someone with a smile, laugh a little louder, love unconditionally and be thankful for my health and very existence.

“Realize deeply, that the present moment is all you ever have.” Eckhart Tolle

“Maybe the best thing to do is stop figuring where you’re going and start enjoying where you’re at.”

“Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” Mothe Teresa

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“People fete’n like family, having fun in good company”

Wikipedia says: Soca- also known as the soul of calypso, is a genre of Caribbean music that originated within a marginalized subculture in the Trinidad and Tobago in the late 1970s, and developed into a range of styles in the 1980s and later. Soca developed as an offshoot of kaiso/calypso, with influences from cadence, funk and soul.

So I’ll admit that now, a solid 80-99% of Soca songs mention something in regards to rum, wukkin up, grindin, rum, chippin, fettin, rum, a waistline, bumpa and/or rum. For this post, I wanted to point out a few other lines that shine a different light on the irreplaceable energy that surrounds Cropover. Family, connection, unconditional friendships and love for the islands.

Red Plastic Bag- I love it– “Fetting is not a crime. I think that everybody should find time to unwind. I just love to be in a good party, I just love to see love and harmony. People fetting like family, having fun in good company. Please dont stand there and judge me, I like to have me fun. Love to see people happy and see people as one”.

Peter Ram- All Ah We -“Me nah want no drama, come pure upset di karma”. 

Machel Montano- Happiest Man Alive “We don’t got no time for no worries, We don’t got no time for stressin…. We come out to live we life… the happiest people alive”.

PeterRam- Good Morning! – “It’s another episode, when we out on de road. Dis is what we love, to celebrate to celebrate. This is not Hollywood, we doh come out to pose, we does party with no restraint.”

Benjai- Phenomenal “It’s a wonderful feeling, share with others, all my brothers, all my sisters. Today we making we name.”

Then there’s the not-so deep lyrics that still have us jumping around and smiling to the soca vibes!

Machel Montano- Like uh boss – “Is whole year I wait for de Carnival and I know that it will be magical. Misbehaving and ah doh care at all. So don try stop me, I’z ah professional… Cuz when I fete’n of course, I jus do it like a boss!”

King Bubba- Callin in sick – “I callin in sick, this is too much vibes to miss. Meh doc tell meh this, rum is meh only medicine. So tell di boss I call in sick.”

Destra Garcia- Lucy– “I grew up as a real good girl, always home doh go nowhere. Ah soon as I was introduced to Carnival deh say I loose!”

Stiffy- Tek off something– “Tek off something and pelt it away… Fling it pon the ground…. cuz it’s yours, you buy dat…could be a shirt or skirt or earring back… Could be uh belt,slippers or bras of yuh strap”.

You’ll hear all of these songs supporting the fetes (parties) during Cropover season here in Barbados. One of my top picks for fete of the year goes to the annual Collets Cruise! In order of oldest to most recent, below are collages of this event from the past. (Click on the provided link to read the entire post)

2012- Cool Runnings and the Buccaneer

2013- Big kids pretending to be adults

2014- Next time I’m bringing a pirates hat

2015-Spontaneous salted Prunes

…and now, 2016! All aboard, drop your bags and start spreadin the love.

Time has shown that you can always count on someone sporting a new shirt with a written phrase that may or may not offend you. This year was clean and simple with a basic “bucket list”. 

Another little tradition is my trusty Heritage stickers. I’ve been sreading them around the world for over 4 years now and here in Barbados they usually find themselves stuck to a cup (so I don’t lose which one is mine)!  To be continued…

Speaking of rituals, here’s one I dread to love. In the collage below you’ll see us in years past on the left and to the right is a column from this year. Sweet Snuffy, my dearest of Daniels… I admire your consistent cheeky smile and bottle-o-fun that keeps some drawn to you and others avoiding you.

…and the winner of best facial expressions goes too… A split between Jason and Rachel. Congrats!

Anchor = swim! 

Ryan didn’t let us down with his annual acrobatics routine, a backflip wit de floaty!

Dear Cupid, well done. Sincerely, Erika
Ok back to Soca music. How do you bust out a party that’s already ripping at the seams? Bring aboard the Soca Bashment King of the year to perform his top hits! Yep, Stiffy from above (song- Tek off something) got dropped by boat and ramped up our energy. Try sitting still through this set…. Not possible.

To Captain Ronald and crew, much gratitude for a safe and success journey each year. Even though most of your guests are giggling their way off more concerned about where their other shoe is, you hidden hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and we all thank you.

Daniel, Sean, Dwayne and Clint (please forgive me if I’ve left out anyone). I’m honored as a returning friend to play a small part of the familiar faces that make this day a reunion of good vibes! There are 365 days in a year… your cruse is in my top 3 favorite. Counting down till next round!

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Barbados behind the lense of Craigg Basham

So my buddy shows up with a tiny piece of luggage, an awesome attitude and a camera the size of my head. Instead of posting details of where each photo is taken, I simply invite you to appreciate the vision behind his lense. Craigg (seen before in This girls on fire and Cliffs, caves and fish cakes) was able to capture some amazing shots that should be on postcards in my opinion.

Every photo you’re about to view came from him and that grown up camera of his. Other work by this artist can be viewed on doublegphotography.smugmug.com or on Instagram @ craiggjb_

Enjoy! 


…but wait, there’s more! 


Recognize the beauty below? You’ve seen the interior and the luxury that comes with it if you read the post, We aren’t gauranteed someday.

Did someone say a lime by the pool?! Yep. Craigg is the only one looking at the camera. Well done sir… Well done!

He even caught me in a couple unexpected moments. Kind of forces a deep breath every time I look at them.


Craigg wrote: As my 10 day trip comes to a close. I can’t help but thank the amazing human being responsible for my being here. We met during my time in Japan and have been friends ever since. She’s been such a gracious host, tour guide, and most importantly; an incredible friend. She showed me the island, introduced me to her friends and I was able to see the island life in a way only locals can. I’m eternally grateful for the hospitality shown. Thank you, Erika. May you always have happiness in your pocket and you’ll forever be the girl on fire (inside jokes) lol. 

Dear Craigg, you were such a wonderful guest (turned roommate) and I want to thank for your easy going attitude and flexibility while learning what “island time” truly means. Your fancy camera exposed the beauty I’ve always seen here and the time you took to capture it, I am so grateful for. It was also a familiar vibe to have someone around that actually got my one liners and could dish em’ right back! Thank you for playing that song every morning for me and finally, because of you… I now giggle every time it rains and I have to reach down to turn on the winesheild wipers. “Sweet mercy, please no! Ugh raaaaashole!”

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Cliffs, Caves and fish cakes!

Once upon a glorious backpacking trip, I went to visit my cousin in Japan and had an amazing time! You can check it out by clicking on any of these posts. During the events, I came accross this happy guy that brought an abundunce of laughter to the already entertaining journey through the country of sushi and hi-chu’s. Craigg and I connected quickly while belting out Alicia Keys seen in This girls on fire! After years of attemted and failed reunions we’ve finally managed to make it happen and wherelese besides good ol’ Barbados. Along with him is Kristina, a vibrant little lady with a passion for adventure and new experiences… My kind of girl!


First things first, Legendary fish cakes! “Legendary” is this sweet well known shack that sells out by lunch and simply closes after the last cake is gone. 


Craigg captured me giving a brief explanation of what these little jewlels are made of (typically it’s a ball of fish, potato, bread crumbs and herbs deep friend and served up with a dipping sauce). You can also get it “in bake” which means in a homemade bread roll.  A proper order would be “2 in bake and 2 fish cakes with peppa sauce”. 

Moving on to our mini island tour. This is the same ride you’ve experienced with me seen in If these walls could talk, would you want to listen? Except now, I’m the driver (enter eyes wide open face here). First stop is straight up to the Animal Flower Caves. This is located at one of the most northern points of the island in the parish of St. Lucy. 

I’ve done a post on the history of this place, so I’ll leave it up to you to do your own research if you’re interested in the actual historical sight. For this round, it’s just picture time!



Walk around to the more eastern side of the point and you’ll find cliff sides embracing the power of the the North Atlantic Ocean.


Next stop was the view from top of Cherry Tree Hill

Finally, no East Coast tour would be complete without a stop at Bathsheba.


So for all of the tourist that check into your accomodations on the south coast then don’t leave the souvenir shops or swim up bar, I invite you to branch out and explore beyond the hotel rum lunch… I mean punch! Rum punch.

Kristina, I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your short and sweet visit to this magical place. I invite you to travel with your heart pure, your mind free of expectations and your ears and eyes wide open! 

I’m sure you noticed the spectacular quality of most of the photos above. I give full credit to Craigg, his camera and a little (a lotta) bit of talent. 

Please visit his website at doublegphotography.smugmug.com or follow his eye catching work on Instagram @ craiggjb_

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Kelly does it again!

Making her third appearance on this blog and hosting numerous shows on the island of Barbaods I’m honored to once again introduce you to my friend Kelly Anne. The creator, owner and dedicated operator of Kelly’s Kloset.

In past posts you can see the entire set up for The Cliff as well as more behind the scenes of what takes place prior to the show. For this read, I’m simply going to put some photos of the action and invite you to visit Kelly’s Kloset Facebook page.

I apologize for the lack of clarity in the photos as they’re a collection from random cameras and photographers.

I was again so fortunate to have the pleasure of doing these gorgeous girls hair backstage. Here we all are prepping for the runway!


Let the show begin!

Find more of Kelly on Instagram @ kellyskloset246. Local girls, she has multiple locations on the island in which requires a scheduled visit… It’s as easy as a phone call! 246-234-9039

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Let freedom ring… from within.

Today is July 4th, a federal holiday recognized in the United States of America. In 1776 the original 13 colonies declared their independence from England and was officially observed as a new nation… “Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Definition of Independence: 

1. the time when a country or region gains political freedom from outside control

2. freedom from outside control or support : the state of being independent

Definition of Freedom

1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint

2. the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

My dictionary of thoughts at the moment:

If you are truly independent and living with freedom, I believe you’ve given yourself permission to enjoy life in such a manner…

  • Independent from others emotional demands. 
  • Independent from the programmed way of thinking.
  • Independent of expectations.
  • Independent from inner negative torment.
  • Independent of the need for outward fulfillment.
  • Freedom to live without self induced struggles.
  • Freedom to breathe without the weight of unnecessary stress.
  • Freedom to be exactly who you are without fear of judgement.
  • Freedom to live not only through experiences but beyond your dreams.
  • Freedom to love. Deeply. Truly. Without holding anything back.

No matter what Independence Day means to you (disregarding your countries standards, your families traditions and your friends thoughts), I truly wish you a sense of freedom that ignites a fire within to extend beyond limitations that you may not even know you have.

For more of a proper post on this holiday, I invite you to check out the post 4th of July in the USA

Want a sampler platter of July celebrations? Please enjoy July shenanigans in California

Care to see how Independence Day might be spent in Florida? Check out 4th of July, Santa Rosa Beach style

Witness the good ol’ south celebrating in Fish fry and fireworks and All American holiday – part 2

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