Juliana’s Life Outside of Escrow (LOE)
(You Only Live Once!)
What is a fitting slogan for Juliana’s LOE (Life Outside of Escrow)? This requires some thought as I have many:
“So many places, so little time.”
“Work hard, play hard, laugh hard, die happy”
“And miles to go before I sleep…”
“I am always game to try something …. once”
“Where to next?”
Without pride or exaggeration, I admit that I am a world traveler, having started at the young age of two years old. My father was a diplomat and the family followed him to his postings all over the world. Though born in Taiwan and having lived a few years there when I was a teenager, I also lived for extended time in Cuba, Brasil, Portugal and of course, the U.S. Each place has a different culture, language, customs and brings different memories that I cherish.
With my father’s postings in different parts of the world and my own travels through the years, here is a compilation of pictures taken from various parts of the world, starting with the most recent. Hover over them for a brief description. Perhaps from the pictures chosen you will get a glimpse of what I found to be interesting. I regret that I can only show less than .1% of all my travel pictures as I have accumulated many hard cover albums, one for each trip taken. I will be continuously adding to this section as I dig up old pictures and take new ones. I welcome all who visit to come back and check out what else is new. I am so grateful that this is a work in progress. I am grateful that financially I can accumulate these memories; I am grateful that my physical health allows me to do this right now; and I am grateful that my family has, for the most, been a part of it. As I grow older (I have joined the AARP!), I feel the need to see everything, do everything right away. I feel time slipping away.
The Beautiful and Alien Landscapes of Death Valley National Park
in California & Nevada
Death Valley may lay claim to be the hottest, driest place on earth and the lowest National Park in the U.S but on our 4 day trip on Thanksgiving we encountered rain and snow as well as clear sunny skies. Painted mountains, salt flats, sand dunes and surreal landscapes were added to the glory of looking up and seeing the Milky Way in this International Dark Sky Park.
With names like Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek, Badwater Basin (lowest place in the U.S.), Mesquite Flats, Devil’s Golf Course you know you are west of the Rockies and in the middle of nowhere.
Go hiking in the mountains, ride into the sunset, lie on the sand dunes as you gaze at the Milky Way, take an astrophotography lesson on site and start clicking away!
And it is only about 2 ½ hours away from Las Vegas!
The Amazing Upper Antelope Canyon (AZ), Bryce Canyon (UT)
and Zion National Park (UT)
Mother Nature works hard through the eons of time. Blessed are we who have the opportunity to behold the masterpieces carved and painted.
Hunting the Aurora Borealis and Fun in the Yukon
Someone mentioned that the strength of illumination of the Aurora Borealis runs a 10 year cycle and we were coming to the end of this cycle. Heaven forbid that I should miss it in this lifetime! So off we go to the city of Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territories, Canada. Never mind that the standard temperature there is 22 ̊F at noon and 0 ̊F at night. YOLO!
Yes, you can say that we achieved our goal. Although not visible by the naked eye the 3 days we were there, we did see the Aurora Borealis through the lenses of the camera. They and the night moon were gorgeous and fascinating no matter which medium was used to see them and voila! Here is proof for posterity. You have to be a bit of a fanatic to do this: viewing time each night was from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. out on the open fields, shivering under temperature that was below -17 ͒͒͒C. Have you ever seen a frozen camera? My poor Nikon 5300D sat on a tripod out there for 4 hours for 3 nights.
Dog Sledding in the falling snow! Yes it snowed all day up in the mountains making the experience very unique for a Southern California gal. There is something to be said for gathering around a campfire for lunch of bison and elk sausages, making a delicious hot drink from spruce branches (picked from the tree right there) and having the snow fall continuously. We drove our own sleds and I admit that I was thrown 3 times, face planting in the snow. Now, everytime I hear “Up!” all my muscles tense up and I grab something tight, as that is the call for the dogs to “Go!”
My veterinarian daughter was so happy that we got to visit a wild animal preserve. In the snow. But it was worth it. Aren’t they beautiful?
The Lost Civilizations of Peru
In my bucket there were 4 places that I dreamed to go and in one vacation we accomplished them all - Peru!
There is something to be said for being able to brag, “I trekked through the steaming jungles of the Amazon and sailed down its rivers and tributaries with alligators ambling along”; or, “I swooped around at 3,000 feet in a small plane to look at the stupendous Nazca lines, and didn’t throw up once; or, “I survived the high altitude of 12,500 feet when we visited the highest navigable lake in the world - Lake Titicaca”. Been there! Done that! Loved it!
But the absolutely most indescribable experience in my life was arriving high in the Andes mountains, turning the corner and seeing the majesty of Machu Picchu laid out in front of me. It was an overwhelmingly emotional moment, bringing tears to my eyes. My one thought was, “Finally, I am here.” Simply put, if I had died then, I would have died happy. That’s how much it affected me.
The City of Lights
Paris is a crazy city. I am not sure that I like it much, but it does get better after a few trips. I look at it as a must-visit location for any self proclaimed world traveler, but if it wasn’t for the history and the art, there wouldn’t be much there that would attract me. Is this reverse snobbery?
When I first visited 15 years ago, the people were snobby, unhelpful and terribly unfriendly. My impression was that they looked at tourists as they would second class citizens. That had changed by the time I visited again about 3 years ago. I think a great deal had to do with the emergence of the European Union, which made it easier for citizens of the EU to travel from area to area and hence force changed the insular attitudes of the French.
Cruising is a lovely way to vacation. You travel in state, stuff yourself with good food, enjoy the entertainment on board and get to go on shore excursions from time to time to see some of the world. No need to unpack! Unfortunately, some of the excursions are limiting as to what can be seen. Turkey is one example. I would have loved to spend more time in that country, but we only sailed to Kusadasi, the biggest port along the Mediterranean, the main focal point being the ancient city of Ephesus. How amazing it was to be able to view the Celsus Library and walk upon the very grounds that St John the Apostle was supposed to have walked and preached. And then to visit the house where the Virgin Mary was supposed to have lived! History does not get better than that!
Corfu, Greece and Dubrovnik, Croatia
Along the route of that Mediterranean cruise we visited Corfu, it’s only claim to fame being the Achilleon. This palace was a retreat for the Empress Elizabeth of Austria Hungary who was an ardent admirer of the Greek Classics and the stories of Achilles by Homer. Her story is a sad one, I feel. Constricted by the formal Hapsburg Court after her marriage to Franz Joseph I, she would come to this palace to escape it all. She lost her only son and was later stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist. But I understand that this little villa facing the Adriatic Sea was a source of comfort for her.
We also visited Dubrovnik in the country of Croatia before it became popular from the Game of Thrones series. A walled city, perfectly preserved, with ancient streets and stone palaces, situated along the Dalmation Coast and facing the Adriatic Sea. See, just saying these names just gives me a thrill. It is so foreign!
The island of Santorini is part of a 3 island chain with the main attraction being Thira, which can only be reached by cable car, donkey or a climb of 600 steps, and Oia, which is where the most popular pictures can be found. There are apparently 800 churches in Santorini, and the prevalent blue and white colors of the buildings reflect the colors of the Greek flag. It is a lovely place to visit, but because it is best accessed from cruise ship excursions, the crush of tourists at any given time can be mind boggling and can take away from the experience. But, if you have a great camera and don’t mind the jostling for position, there are innumerable potential places for fantastic, colorful pictures.
For a history buff like myself there is no city more fascinating than Roma. You just can’t go more than a few steps without realizing that you are stepping on stones that Roman Legions and their Caesars stomped on. How cool is that! Like Paris, Rome is also a must-visit location for the world traveler, but there the similarities end. While the Parisians had this general air of insouciance and holier- than- thou mindset, the Romans were, I felt, friendly, down to earth and very proud of their history as the center of the Roman Empire. To do Roma justice a person needs put on their tennis shoes and be ready to walk everywhere so that no nook or cranny is missed. Gawk at something incredible? Go outside the Vatican in the early morning and look at the endless line of people lined up to visit Vatican City and the Musei Vaticani. Again, been there, done that, and maybe will do again!
I have been to Venice several times and never had the chance to dig deep into the Venetian lifestyle, simply because I was never there for a long period. Images of Venice is always - water, canals, water, small streets, water, throngs and throngs of tourists everywhere and the struggle of rolling suitcases up and down those canal bridges. Venice is so commercialized that it is difficult to get a sense of the actual people who lived there. But I do admit to enjoying riding the vaporetto around the Grand Canal, as long as I could figure out which direction it wa headed, and particularly visiting the town of Burano with its colorful houses and quaint shops, far removed from the hustle and bustle of Venice proper.
This Russian city was one of the port stops on our Baltic cruise, and although I hope to visit more of the country in the future, this excursion gave me a taste of the differences between the European culture and the Russian one. The biggest difference, and the best thing about St Petersburg, were the fantastical onion domed churches. Loved them! Nothing like that in any country in the world. Need to see the extravagance and excess of Imperial Russia? Visit the Grand Palace in Peterhof and the Catherine Palace in Pushkin. Is it no wonder that the Bolshevik Revolution happened? I might not be a big Russian history buff, but there was enough there and at L’Hermitage to fascinate me. I was surprised at how much Russian history is intertwined with European history, all due to the blood relationship between all the royal houses. I am going to put Russia in my bucket!
The city is well on its way towards reaching zero emission footprint. Cars and buses are rare compared to other congested European cities and the most common mode of transportation is the bicycle. There is nothing that grabs the female tourists’ romantic imaginations more than a man in uniform, especially if he is sporting a tall bearskin hat. Especially if he is walking in formation and not cracking a single smile. Copenhagen is a town you walk everywhere and so do the guards, as they march from the Armory to Amalienborg Castle. What a way to stop traffic! A fun city to visit - check out the human traffic on Nyhaun port, have a beer from the Carlsberg Brewery and enjoy Hans Christian Andersen’s home town.