Posts Tagged With: garden

Can chickens smell a chicken?

My father is an exceptional plasterer. I suppose he should be since he’s been doing it from his teen years. Even though experience says a lot, there’s a reason he’s still requested for work after 40 years of building a reputation. I explain this because we just found out he was hired to do a job in New Mexico. So with a short notice (and super-woman for a wife) his entire family was packed, kitchen and all, to hit the road for an extended out of state stay.    
As I say good-bye, they’re explaining the chores that I had offered (silly me) to take care of. Just two pups, a few feathered animals and a garden. Couldn’t be that hard… right? Ha. Ha. Ha.

The first day wasn’t to bad as it was mainly just checking things out. Food, check. Water, check. Pick the garden and walk the dogs… check, check! 

Ticks: Small arachnids (that I have a hard time finding a reason for their existence) that live off of the blood from mammals, birds, humans… pretty much anything that bleeds. I got my first after day one, so here’s my attire for future chores. 

 Day two: I remembered my cell phone today because yesterday I had left it at my Grams’s. Her mindful thoughts brought her all the way out to make sure the length of time I had been gone wasn’t due to any mishaps. (This is necessary for a story below).

First up, I fed the pups after a long walk up their country dirt road. Meet Shadow, the black dog that just appeared into the family’s yard one day and Captain, the lovable beagle my sister waited patiently to get.
 The 4 legged kids are fed and happy, so now it’s on to the feathered friends. Check for eggs and make sure the feed and water is full. Easy enough…

This is the view of the main chicken yard.

 I opened the wooden door to reach for the feed and walked in with confidence, chickens can smell a chicken right? Why I get goosy when a rooster heads for me, I have no idea. When I entered, like always, I lightly pulled the door behind me. Click click. It shut.. and locked. No big deal as I turned to look for the pull string that would release it from the inside. Non-existent. So there I was, trapped in a chicken coop on a hot sticky Oklahoma afternoon.    

  MacGyver time! Feathers? Too weak.   

  This metal device? Too angular.  

A stick! Too large.  

 I could crawl through the… nope. Turns out the chicken door is smaller than the doggy door I’ve had to climb through (don’t ask).

 After a solid 15 minutes of sincere efforts to make an exit, I finally decided to call upon my grandma to come let me out. Call her with the phone that I left sitting on the truck! Can you see it?! 

 Great, she won’t be heading this way anytime soon since yesterday she did for no reason. Especially after this mornings joke of “I’m bringing my phone this time so you don’t have to worry”!

After debating on kicking in the door or just waiting for anyone to come over, I glanced down and saw my last hope. Success!   

Since I made the great escape with time to spare, I made my way to the garden for an afternoon playing in dirt. Corn, okra, tomatoes, yellow squash, 3 types of peppers and one happy camper! 

  I learned quickly to make sure I ate before picking veggies. 2 tomatoes in the basket and one in my belly. An okra for home and one for now (yes, I even like them raw!). Have you ever enjoyed the sweet taste of yellow sun-kissed corn right from the stalk while standing waste deep in the garden? Me neither.  
Side note: If there are no chemicals that would harm these guys, there’s no chemicals to harm you. Hooray for organic gardening! 

 Even this mini crawler made it all the way home. “No worries little fella, I don’t blame ya… I’d live in the garden too if I was your size!” 


3 things I learned about myself while taking care of my family’s property:

1. I jump just as high if a monkey were to jump on my back or if a grasshoper leaps to a leaf in front of me.

2. I don’t want to live anywhere that ticks do.

3. When I grow up and have my own place… there will be a garden.

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Sleeping by the mango tree.

It’s been awhile since I’ve specifically posted about accommodations. Mainly because I’ve been staying with family in the states and I’m sure the last thing they want is their house exposed online. “…but Erika, I haven’t even vacuumed yet!”

With that said, let’s talk hotels. My first time coming to Barbados was back in the 2011 when I surprised my mom for her 50th birthday. You can see more about that story in More than just a dolphin tour.

We didn’t know anyone on the island yet, so I had to use the good ol’ internet to search out the best option.

With multiple pools, a swim-up bar, nice rooms, restaurants and nightly entertainment Accra Beach Hotel had everything we needed to feel like we were on vacation.


After venturing back to the island every year since then, I’ve met several friends who have welcomed me into their homes. Thank you Ryan!

This round, considering I had two buddies join me, we stayed in a hotel that offered apartment styled rooms. Coconut Court is known as the most “green” on the island in regards to recycling, room care and sanitary issues. It’s nicely located in Hastings which is on the south coast, walking distance from a variety of restaurants, shops and popular beaches.

Here’s a few views from the main building.



Our apartment didn’t have the same views, but it was well worth the abundance of space in trade.





I feel like spending too much time inside any building on this island is some sort of unspoken broken law. Getting out of the room, we found ourselves wandering around the Coconut Court to see what they offered. Here are a few pics from the area surrounding our place.




Keep walking through the hotels property and you’ll end at the beach with lounge chairs, picnic tables and a tiny bar. Definitely different than my usual hostel grounds of bean bags, broken barbecues and outdoor toilets.




After Hayden left the trio, Bree and I made our final move up the west coast to the more northern parish of St.Peter. Here, we occupied a friends guest studio house. Thank you Barbara!

It was quaint and comfortable with welcoming greens all around that could have fed me for weeks! Spinach, herbs, mango, bananas and papaya… Yes please!




This mango tree made for not only an excellent breakfast option, but a fun handstand shot (or two).



The final photo is our sweet little porch that was the perfect setting for coffee in the morning, a game of cards in the afternoon and several dinner conversations that eventually got drowned out by the tune of the whistling frogs.

No joke, these little (and I mean tiny) frogs will over power the sound of any evening small talk. So much, that leaving the island requires a transition to learn to sleep with silence again. Here, I found this sample of their acoustics for you.


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Tulsa, more than just the Drillers.

I’ve been loving life on the road now for 2 1/2 years. Homeless but never unsettled… traveling solo, but rarely alone. What a dream.

Volunteering abroad has allowed me to experience a wide range of lifestyles, careers, religions, traditions and so on. In regards to food and accommodations, I’ve been able to pleasantly earn my way through volunteering and bartering, that in itself has been an adventure!

Well, turns out there was opportunity right near my own back yard!

Work hard (barely) and play hard (relax) seemed to be the theme of my whirlwind trip to Tulsa. A few projects to assist in and a partner in harmless crime was my position to fill during this visit to see my long time family friend, Ryan. We spent a summer together over 15 years ago and lost touch until last year. Fun fact, we both traveled to Asia and Japan within months of each other without even knowing it!

Assignment number one? Taxes…. enough said.

How it began…

The controlled chaos…

The gorgeous results…


I’ll pause here for you to meet Chris Farley…. Cute, lazy and completely lovable.



Project number two called for some creative minds, dirty toes and one bandaid thanks to the gorgeous cactus plant.





If you know me at all, you’ll know that cooking is hardly a chore but rather a candidate for one of my top 5 favorite activities. With that said, playing in his kitchen was far from work and more of a treat. Friends, meet one of my happy places.


Where was Ryan during my crazy culinary play-time? Clearly he knew that without his effort, it was going to be an all veggie dinner. I found him out back firing up the grill.


The result of our powers combined equaled a huge hunk of meat and my roasted veggies, a cucumber-tomato-onion salad with a side of homemade guacamole and salsa with lentil chips. Yum.


I’ll give you one guess to figure out which plate belonged to him…


Ryan served up dessert with an unofficial-officially proper scotch tasting.



If you ever make your way through Tulsa and you have a great deal of appreciation for creative drinks in a unique ambiance, I highly suggest you check out Valkyrie.

They provide carefully selected craft beer, worldly wine and your classic cocktails using quality ingredients. By “quality” I mean they make their own mixers, infusions and juices with local produce and a lot of love. From lavender, jalepeño, to cucumber and homemade ginger beer, the menu offers a variety for the people who stick to the classics. It also caters to those of us who search for a new flavor with each order. Choose from the “shaken” or “stirred” list and wait for the masterpiece to present itself. I tried the “Shake rattle, bang your head” which was a brilliant combination of Gin, jalepeños, chartreuse, cucumber and lime.





After enjoying these wonderful beverages, what better way to test your hand-eye coordination than a few friendly games of pool and shuffle board. To prevent public embarrassment, I won’t say the name of who came in 2nd place… I’ll simply post a picture of who dominated both games.


For my last evening, we went to a local restaurant that offered a classy menu with a fine wine list. Unfortunately we managed to order items that didn’t produce the flavors it had flaunted. I’m thinking we just caught the chef on an off day, so if you choose to dine at Tall Grass, I wish you an amazing edible experience!

Our selection for the appetizer was bone marrow. Notice how he just pushed the interior mass into a pudding-like pile. The first taste to hit my palette was salt. Not a “salty” flavor, but actual sodium… like I licked a salt shaker. There wasn’t a second flavor due to the speed in which I removed it from my mouth. Hmmm, no thank you.



For dinner I ordered a root salad with an apple cider vinegar dressing and he went for the pecan crusted halibut (sounds marvelous, right?). Dessert was a fancy wine that neither one of us had ever heard of, but definitely proved to be the most flavorful item on the table.


The best photo of the evening was catching Ryan in his ever so sophisticated pose with a cheeky grin. Perfect for the energy of the evening, well done… Well done!

Lastly, I’ll wrap up this post in gratitude for the very much appreciated moments outside. A breath of fresh air, solid sunshine and good conversation was a perfect compliment to this mini trip.




Ryan, this unexpected and perfectly timed get-away was hopefully just the first of many. Cheers to Japanese bloody Mary’s, squeaky windmills, kale chips and the best sports team ever… The Drillers! Thank you for everything.

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Now I lay me down to sleep… In El Salvador

Besides the one memorable night at the tropical farm, here are the two hostels we stayed at during our El Salvadorian adventure. The first place is called Hostal Cumbres del Volcan ran by Malcom and Gladys with tremendous assistance from Sarah and Walter. This place feels more like a bed and breakfast as the open kitchen and common area feels just like home.




The decorations are simple but vibrant and like any other good hostel, they have the usual collection of trading books and movies.



The personal interaction and helpful attention given to us by the staff there absolutely made our stay what it was. A special thanks to everyone at Hostel Cumbres del Volcan!

This hostel sat in the corner of the village of Juaya (why-you-uh) the place with the waterfalls and food festival. Equipped with an open kitchen and large common area, it was hard to bump into other travelers. The rooms had similar options with dorms, privates and shared.




Moms favorite place to sip her coffee was in the back garden area. Fountains, trees, fruit and flowers…. What’s not to love?




I was entertained by scoping out all of the recycled items that contributed to this busy yard.



Can you spot the shoe?


With the comfortable accommodations and the welcoming staff, I would definitely stay at either one of these if my journey brought me through El Salvador again.

I’ll finish this post with the sign that made me giggle every time I used the restroom.


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Bajans in Frankfurt and Americans in Wiesbaden

Who gets up before sunrise, takes a train to one of the largest international airports with fingers crossed in hopes that they can find a friend in passing just for a hug? Ooh, pick me pick me! (pretend my hand was eagerly raised like a hyper school girl).

This is the segway polo team that I met at the world cup in California, celebrated with them during crop over in Barbados and now get a 20 minute visit with them in the Frankfurt airport.
As I left the hostel, a fellow backpacker asks if I want her to come with me to help spot out the group. With a small giggle I explain how no “help” would be needed. Not because there was a dozen of them but due to their unforgettable accent and natural energy, I can feel them from afar!
Here we are in years past.







Sure enough, I could hear the sweet sounds of the Bajan tone as they approached the departure counter. A couple of quick pics and priceless hugs before they head back to the sunny island of Barbados.






This beautiful couple is always shining from the inside out. Great friends (and hair clients) from Folsom that have traveled the distance to participate in the Euro Segway cup with the Bajans. What an extra bonus to snag a hug from these warm smiles before they head back to the west coast of North America.


This was the start of my last day in Frankfurt… Perfect! Now for some city sights:







We lost points on our driving test in the States if our tire even swiped the curb… They post signs of encouragement here!


For the few who know and understand my love for Cherimoya, you can imagine the excitement I had to control when I spotted out these at a local health food store. It’s a fruit from South America that became a part of my regular diet when I was volunteering in Peru. Since then, I only dream of it in my best nights sleep. Not today, I get to indulge… Does that means it’s a “dream come true”?


Although this shop looked tempting, I was too busy with my cherimoya so here’s a couple pictures from the outside.



What’s this? A double surprise! I do believe my dear friend Tiffany is the only person on this earth who can fully appreciate the fact that I found Dinkles! Last year, she allowed me to,stop on every German health food store with high hopes in relocating these treats I had discovered the year prior. They’re made of spelt, with only a few ingredients and no additives. Oh happy days!


A jog around Frankfurt before my final stop in Weisbaden . Here’s what I caught when I actually remembered that I had a camera on me!




Love the love!



My jog led me to the botanical gardens which was the perfect cool down. I misuse through the rose garden to get to the cactus showing. Spent most of my time in the hibiscus room and enjoyed watching everyone near the water. If you come to Frankfurt, this is a great escape from the city.










On the way out I snagged a sample of this basil spread on a pumpkin seed cracker. They asked which jam I wanted to try so I picked then one that all the bees were in… It must be their favorite right?




My last weekend in Germany was spent in the city of Wiesbaden. I don’t have many pictures to show you because honestly I was too busy enjoying the peace of staying in a home with a couple that I absolutely adore. This is Brooke and Tim, an American duo finishing up their 3rd year stationed here.

Tim is a proud man serving his country with an abundance of energy and the ability to quote any comedic line from a film to make the room laugh. So refreshing! Brooke is one of those people on earth that quickly makes an impression much farther than the surface. She naturally exudes a calm warmth that extends throughout her household with an outlook on life that comes from hard work and self discipline. I felt comfortable with them last year and even more so this year.

Here is Brooke, Tiffany and I last October, followed by Brooke and I this trip.




First things up, I got to play babysitter! Funny how things are so exciting when they’re removed from your usual routine. I even got to cut the hair of this little guys mom as well, Thank you!



They took me to a Market Bizarre that was put on by the families from the Army base, definitely a different experience that I’ve ever had.









Tim, you crack me up. Brooke, you make my heart smile. I look forward to the next path crossing… Hoping it will be somewhere new!

Next stop is Malaysia! I’ll be staying with Kuldip, a backpacker I met in New Zealand. During our volunteering she invited me for a visit which of course I dare not pass up… See ya soon Kuldip!
Here we are last February on the South Island of New Zealand.




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