Collectible Dolls

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We're just regular travelers like the rest of you. We like to get away as time and (yes, that old limiter) finances allow. Our time allows for maybe three or so weeks out of each year. We like to take ocean cruises. We like to visit and hike the trails in our beautiful National Parks. We like to see places we have not seen before.

My wife and I consider ourselves active people. Of course the definition of "active" means different things to different people. We're not into extreme sports such as heli-skying, for example. We're not party on the town active either. We rarely bother to see the midnight hour on New Years Eve. We're not athletic either. We don't pound the racket ball around a court. We don't parachute out of airplanes either. So does that mean we do nothing? We do plenty.


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Travel and Leisure - The Off Time From The Day To Day Routine

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The Travel and Leisure Side There are places to go and things to see
Has Barcelona Gotten A Bad Rap? A visit to Barcelona, Spain came about as the result of it being the terminating point of the Mediterranean cruise we took. As it is a place we had never visited before, we elected to spend an additional two days there to do some sightseeing before we returned home following the end of the cruise. Barcelona turned out to be far more than we expected and it turned out to be less than we expected.

Barcelona, Spain

Lewis N. Clark Luggage Rfid Waist Stash, Taupe, One Size


Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours
Barcelona, Spain

Hop On Hop Off Bus Sightseeing One of the best ways to see a new city, that is, one you have not visited before, is by the Hop On Hop Off bus system. See the major sights aboard an open-top double-decker bus, and with over 45 stops to choose from you can hop on and hop off all around the city. Spend as much or as little time at places of interest before jumping aboard for the next stop - the choice is yours! Barcelona Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

  • Barcelona hop-on hop-off city bus tour
  • Explore Barcelona on board an open-top, double-decker bus
  • Hop-on hop-off Barcelona between the three tour routes and 45 different stops
  • Sights along North-South route include La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Football Club, Port de Olimpic, Parc de la Ciutadella, Zoo and much more
  • Guidebook and discount voucher booklet included
  • Onboard guides provide personalized attention
We used a two day pass to first make the rounds of the routes and then the next day we hopped off at the points we had selected from the previous day which we wanted to spend some time and explore.
Venice, Italy is known for its canals. Venice is also a very "walkable" city. All it takes is a couple of days to walk through the streets and alleys, they're actually streets but are very narrow so we might think of them as alleys, to get a flavor of the city. Of course if you have more time than a couple of days (highly recommended) all the better to really explore the city it will be one of those visits not soon forgotten.

Venice is not all walking though. It is an absolute must, you must see the city by water. Whether that be by gondola or boat tour of the Grand Canal, it looks different when seen from the water. Of course, a gondola ride is a must.

Traveling to Venice, Italy? Get 10% Off Grand Canal Boat Tours at Viator.

Traveling to Venice, Italy? Get 20% Off Venice in One Day - The Original Venice Walk and Grand Canal Boat Tour at Viator.

Sandy and enjoyed a sunset gondola serenade through the canals of Venice.
Venice,, Italy gondola ride
Want to see more of Venice? Click Here

Need An Effective And Safe Case For Your Rifle or Shotgun? Though keeping rifles and shotguns, or any firearm for that matter, safely locked away and out of the reach of children is the best practice, a case for carrying the firearm to and from the range or hunting grounds is still needed. I won't try to make an argument for hard vs. soft cases, but when I was looking for a case for my rifle I elected for a hard case. The choice of which is up to the individual but that was my choice.

I did not want something which would break the bank. After all, I never expect to carry my rifle as checked baggage on the airlines. That's more for the hunters and I am more of just a casual target shooter. Doing some searching on line I was pleasantly surprised at how economical even hard cases can be. Often no more expensive than a good soft case. I went with the Flambeau Safeshot case. Solid construction, roomy enough inside and yes, long enough for my rifle. It will hold any shotgun and even a scoped rifle. Good padding, good fit to the two halves and pinned hinge latches. Four of them, actually. And yes, I have seen (check it out, you will too) see other cases by other names of comparable quality and no better, but at twice the price.
Flambeau Outdoors Safeshot Single Long Gun Case icon
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Sell Art Online

This and more of our photography can be bought through Fine Art America. Prints are available in canvas, acrylic, metal, art print, framed, all in sizes up to 36 inches x 24 inches. We use acid-free papers and canvases with archival inks to guarantee that your prints last a lifetime without fading or loss of color. Paper prints include a 1" white border around the image to allow for future framing and matting. Canvas prints include a 2.5" white border to allow for future stretching on stretcher bars.

All pictures are also available as throw pillows. Our throw pillows are made from 100% polyester fabric and add a stylish statement to any room. Pillows are available in sizes from 14" x 14" up to 26" x 26". Each pillow is printed on both sides (same image) and includes a concealed zipper and removable insert (if selected) for easy cleaning.


You know what it's like to come home from a vacation trip and go through all of your photos - digital or film, it does not matter - and try to figure out what belongs to what? Even in the modern digital photo world where you can identify a photo shot on any particular day with where you were and what it was the photo is of. Now that seems like a strange statement. Maybe. This photo? Of the Mt. Rushmore Monument of course. Are all subjects in your photos so easy to identify just by looking at the picture?

For the last few years we carried a small spiral ring notebook to make notes in which would later be used to identify scenes, subjects and places and even impressions of places we visited and things we saw. The idea of the notebook was good and it was a simple system. The problem is that it was awkward to use. Walking with a tour group or hiking on a mountain trail now try to manage digging a notebook out of your backpack, find where that pen went to and flip to a blank page and try to write a note while trying to keep from walking into a tree or falling behind your tour group.

For some time we had talked about looking into the little digital voice recorders. Something to simply with one hand hold the tiny recorder which can be hanging from a lanyard around your neck, and make a quick vocal note without taking your eye off of the things around you. The notes can then be played back later while going trough your vacation photos or for that matter just trying to recall impressions or descriptions of events or places.

Here is the recorder we settled on. Small, easy to tether on a lanyard to keep it handy and avoid falling out of my shirt pocket and in use, one handed operation to make a quick note of particular information which can be the description or other info an a location, the description and image file number of a photo shot or anything else I need to record for later reference. USB connection will allow for the audio files to be moved to a computer. A huge internal memory and the ability to insert a microSD card if needed. A good readable display and good recording and playback sound quality.

Olympus VN-722PC Voice Recorders, 4 GB Built-In-Memory

 

 
Make Sure You Have The Correct Voltage When you visit a new city in a different country, are you sure your electrical devices will work there? Can you use them safely on the different power outlet voltages you may encounter? Will you even be able to plug them into the electrical outlets?

Park Where the Scooters and Motor Bikes Park
Barcelona, Spain

Explore Barcelona in a unique and exciting way – by GoCar! Easy and fun to drive, the GoCar is guided by GPS (Global Positioning System), which means that the car always knows where you are, even if you don't. As you drive near La Sagrada Familia or Park Güell, the GPS tells you where to turn and what you're passing, and it waits patiently if you want to stop. With three different itineraries and tour lengths to choose from, you can discover Barcelona on your own schedule! Barcelona GPS-Guided GoCar Tour

  • Self-drive GoCar tour in Barcelona guided by talking GPS
  • Travel around Barcelona at your own pace
  • View Gaudí's masterpieces such as La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell,
    Casa Batlló and Casa Milá (La Pedrera)
  • Visit Barcelona's charming neighborhoods including Gracia, l'Eixample,
    Barceloneta and Bonanova
  • See sights that interest you such as La Monumental bullring, Camp Nou, Montjuic, Olympic Port and Tibidabo
  • Choose between three different routes

Sandy and I saw several of these GoCars on the streets in Barcelona. We did not realize that they were GPS guided tours and of course you can rent them for independent touring of the city if you don't want to do the guided tour thing. Unlike some of the other European cities we visited Barcelona looks to be much more laid back and not quite as traffic congested. No large city is free of traffic challenges but, though we did not have the time to rent a car or other vehicle for our own exploring, it looked obvious that driving there would be no more challenging than what we would find in any of our cities here in the U.S.

There's no better way to see the sights and learn the history of Barcelona than by joining a bike tour!

  • Four-hour cycling tour of Barcelona's attractions
  • Bicycle and insurance included
  • Choice of morning and afternoon tour times
  • Rain poncho (if needed) and child-seats and helmets (on request)
  • Illuminating commentary from your expert English-speaking guide

We discovered kayaking several years ago while on a vacation visit to southeast Oklahoma. We had previously done canoeing but the idea of trying out individual kayaks struck our fancy. We were immediately hooked and decided that kayaking suited us better than canoeing. Canoeing can be fun but generally canoes are suited for two paddlers and we found that the control of individual kayaks allowed us more maneuverability individually.

For quite a while after that outing we continued to think about joining the paddling community. For one thing, there seemed to be little if any kayaking activity in our home area. Sure, in other parts of the country kayaking was popular but we heard little of it here. That all seemed to change within the last couple of years. Perhaps it was longer but us being involved in other activities we paid little attention to what was going on with the sport in our area. Kayaking was indeed becoming popular here and as there are a lot of waterways both in the form of rivers and lakes and several friends and new aquaintences have either done kayaking, are currently enjoying it or have expressed an interest in giving it a try.

Perception Sport Pescador kayaks

We purchased two models very much like these sit-on-top kayaks in the link. Models have changed slightly since we bought ours but they're very much alike in features and performance. Perception Pescador 12.0 Kayak - 2015 model. We have had them out on the water a few times with many more times anticipated as time allows. For larger sized individuals, the 12 foot model is recommended over the 10 foot model.

Read the whole story The Boats Have Left The Garage


The kayaking Adventure Begins. We discovered kayaking some years ago for the first time. We had done some canoe paddling before but this was something rather different.

For anyone who enjoys bird feeders in the back yard, you know how hard it is to keep loose seed and seed husks from collecting on the ground below the feeder. Over time that can create problems with the germination of some seed as well as just preventing the grass from growing. We ended up with a large bare patch of dirt below the feeder where no grass would grow.

Now one solution some might suggest is to use the type of feeder which has solid seed blocks (or whatever you might call it) where the birds actually have to pick the seed off instead of having loose, individual seed within the feeder housing. I suppose that is a good option but we like using the black oil sunflower seed and that requires a different sort of feeder.

So to the problem of what to do about the seed which falls from the feeder. One day I was out there cleaning up a pile of seed and husk from the ground when I thought of an idea. What if I had a screen or or something large enough under the feeder to catch the seed? My initial thought was that I ought to be able to make something. I than thought, well maybe there is something already made which I can buy which will do the trick.

Sure enough, there is such a device. We looked at several options, several versions of catchers made to hang below bird feeders and we decided on the Songbird Essentials Seed Hoop 30 In Seedhoop Lightweight Easy To Attach Exterior Grade Vinyl Coated

When one decides on a product like this, the expected questions will be, how well will it work and how long will it last? After all, the bottom of the catcher is made of what looks like window screen. Will the birds tear it up within a few weeks? What will happen to it if squirrels jump onto it? Will it soon have holes in it? How well will the screen section stay attached to the circular frame around the sides?

Ours has been hanging under the feeder for about two years now. It has been subjected to wind, rain, sleet, ice, birds galore and a number of squirrels which insist on literally dropping down onto it from branches above (anybody got any real solutions to that problem?) and the catcher is holding up great. The material has shown no signs of wear. The screen material in the bottom and around the sides shows no signs of wear nor pulling away from the frame. The cords and hooks which allow it to attach to the feeder are adjustable to allow for any hanging distance below the feeder. We found that up close works best for us.


Click on image for a larger view of the catcher


Here's a fun idea. Water sports? Biking? Hiking? Some may really go way beyond what we are going to do and risk the so-called "extreme sports." Snowboarding and extreme skiing, skydiving and well, you pick for yourself. Just for fun, catch it all on video. Be my guest. We'll stick to things a little more tame. There is a great lineup of attractively priced action sports camcorders available. Some are waterproof as well. Oh yes, for swimming with sharks if that is your thing.


GoPro HERO4 SILVER

Following a recent snorkeling venture at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico recently after which we saw some amazing video footage shot on a GoPro, we decided it was time to make the plunge - that's ok, it's a pun - and we bought a GoPro HERO4 Silver. We wanted the added feature of the touchscreen back display. Maybe you will not find that a useful feature but try that vs. just the front panel button method of selecting options through the menu system. I think you will find the touch display more than useful.

The GoPro HERO4 Silver comes with three easily replaceable back panels for the housing. The one originally installed on the case is fully waterproof and allows the case with camera to be submerged down to 131 feet (40 m.) Another one has a thinner surface in the part of the panel which covers the touch screen. This allows for touch screen operation while maintaining waterproof capability of the case but to a more limited depth. This would be ideal for swimming pool use, kayaking or other water activities where the protection of the camera is important but the depth to which the camera will be used is more limited. The third case back has the area over the touch screen open. This one is not waterproof so it must not be used if the camera is going to be used in or around water. This back is ideal for all dry land activities as it allows full operation of the touch screen but also being open allows better sound pickup for the built-in microphone.

Now I wish we had bought the GoPro prior to that snorkeling venture. Well anyhow, we did have our other waterproof camera with us and I did catch some shots of the fish we spotted.

So you already have a GoPro. Any GoPro. What do you do about keeping the camera and all acessories organized and in one convenient place and ready for travel?


CamKix Medium Case for GoPro Hero 4, 3+, 3, 2, 1 and Accessories - Ideal for Travel or Home Storage - Complete Protection for Your GoPro Camera - Microfiber Cleaning Cloth Included (Medium,Black)

 
Shooting Pictures and Videos Under Water For shooting pictures and videos in and around water, there are a number of options in camera selection. Waterproof cameras which are often very simple (though perhaps convenient) pocket camera models or more specialized and often more expensive cameras specifically designed for the purpose. There is also the option to use a camera which itself is not made to be submerged but which has an available waterproof housing. That last option is the path we chose to meet our water activity shooting needs.


Places To Go and Things To Do

SOME of the stories are on line. Others are in the process of being added.


Sandy and I had for many years used a a couple of old pairs of binocular which were made by a popular and recognizable name. Perhaps considered 'low end" among the names good binoculars carry, some of which can cost a couple of thousand dollars but which on average are typically priced in the hundreds, ours were bottom of the line.

They served us to the degree that we need binocular. Out on hiking trips and often even taken with us on ocean cruises to allow us to spot the shore line, other ships, and other objects at a distance. Though the optics were not horrible, it was not trying to look through the bottom of a Coke bottle, no the optics were decent. We simply knew we could do better with more modern options.

Recently we started looking around for something better. Something actually better by way of better quality optics, better focusing (our old ones would not focus on anything closer than about 50 feet) and offering such advantages as if not completely waterproof, at least highly water resistant Also, fogging resistant. I don't yet know how this is going to work in practice as we've not yet had the opportunity to try it, but taking a pair of binoculars out onto the cabin balcony of the cruise ship after they have been all night in the low humidity air conditioned cabin and encountering warm, ocean humidify you'll find yourself looking through fogged up lenses. So we'll see how the new ones fare in this regard.

Back to the subject of focusing distance. Some may have wondered why I care about focusing on something which is less than 50 feet away. After all, they're binocular. They're intended for looking long distance. It depends on whether you want to catch a closer look at that bird on the feeder in the back yard. The ability to focus on closer subjects is indeed a plus.

We looked at several options and settle on the Bushnell Bear Grylls 10 x 42mm Roof Prism Waterproof/Fogproof Binoculars Our old binoculars made no claims of being either waterproof or fogproof. Knowing we might use them under wetter conditions as well as fog producing conditions, those were good features. Our old ones were 7 x 35mm and though that magnification and aperture size in general is acceptable, we wanted to go for a somewhat greater magnification. With hand held binoculars you can go too far to the extent that you will end up with a shaky view. Opting for a tripod mount is sometimes an option but most of the time is not. So 10 x seemed quite enough. Increasing from 35mm to 42mm aperture will help the image brightness under lower light conditions. And as to minimum focusing distance, the Bear Grylls can focus as close as about 12 feet. The rubberized case helps to protect them from dings and dents and provides a good grip.

We wanted all of this without breaking the bank, and without a huge increase in weight and size. In fact, because these are roof prism design, they are actually a bit more compact and pretty much the same weight as our old ones. Since we wanted one for each of us, at the price, were were able to get two of them which compare virtually identical for the same price we would have to pay for one of many other choices. And yes, they do come with a good neck strap as well as handy carrying case. And, protective caps for each end of the lenses.

Sandy and I love bicycle riding. We're not competitive or technical riders. We don't race and we don't do extended touring. Hey, nothing wrong with those approaches to bicycle fun. It's just not our thing. On the other hand, our rides are not "walking pace" either. Our usual riding consists of covering the trails (paved multi-use paths, actually) in one of the local parks. Doing the entire run, which we do, covers almost sixteen miles. We average about 13 mph and we try to do this three times a week, weather and schedule permitting.

Earlier this year we decided that it was time to replace our old and wearing tires. We also wanted to replace the kind of tires which had been on the bikes since we got them several years ago. The original tires were "hybrid" meaning they served to handle both road riding and off road conditions such as mud, sand and other more unfriendly surfaces. We wanted something more favorable to road and more rolling efficient. In other words, not knobby tires but more smooth surfaced for reduced rolling resistance.

We have now had the Kenda K838 Slick Wire Bead Bicycle Tires for several months. The do roll smoother, quieter and with much less vibration which rougher tread tires can cause. Contrary to fears one might have when seeing how slick they look, is that they might not have anything in the way of traction at all. That is simply not true. Though the surfaces we have ridden on are generally dry, we do now and then encounter patches of wet and shallow puddles after a rain and sometimes loose dirt. There has never been a sense of slipping or other indications of loss of traction. The ride feels solid and secure.

Can you get a better tire? I am sure, if you pay a lot more for it. How much better though? Could we ever measure any actual riding difference in a tire which costs under $20.00 to one which costs closer to $100.00? In our experience I think any gain would cost more than the return in value.

Oh yes, what about reliability? So far we've put on a few hundred miles on them and have not had a problem. See the buyer reviews for yourself.

Kenda K838 Slick Wire Bead Bicycle Tire, Blackwall, 26-Inch x 1.95-Inch
Note: Check the tire size requirements for your bike and wheels.

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

 


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The Travel and Leisure Side There are places to go and things to see

Dan W. Dooley