"If you are tempted by the awakening of your own long-dormant wanderlust, Going Gypsy can serve as a primer. . . . The questions [Veronica] poses about 'what next' are relatable ones for all empty nesters." —PBS's Next Avenue
I’ve got an issue and I need help! I’m hoping I’ll get a lot of suggestions on this post from our amazingly insightful readers.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Dr Seuss
Having The Spawn come and go in such short and hectic celebratory spurts gave me some interesting insight into how I deal with my empty nest good-byes.
Not well, it seems.
No matter how long they’ve been out of the nest, no matter how happy they are, no matter how I prepare myself, no matter how much I write about it – I can’t seem to keep myself from being head-over-heels depressed every time I have to say good-bye to my young adult offspring.
It hits me like a ton of bricks. Seriously, I cry like Tammy Faye Bakker on the second day of her period — a regular air-sucking, mascara-dripping, please-God-nobody-see-me sob fest.
One would think I’d be used to good-byes by now. Or that I’ve somehow figured out how to prepare for the letdown. After all, The Spawn are all finished with college and it’s been over ten years since we’ve had a full time, live-in offspring.
Prior to a visit, I’m obnoxiously ecstatic. Bouncing off the walls happy. I certainly don’t want to tarnish that feeling with the planning of the inevitable pit of despair at the end. So instead, I’ve been leaving an open void of time — just waiting there for me to fall into, dragging self-pity in behind me.
Seeing The Spawn never fails to fulfill me. I am always surprised at how easily I can slip fully back into Mommy mode, it’s a huge part of who I am. When I’m around them I smile bigger, laugh harder and feel so comfortably myself. The heartstrings sing — and dig in hard.
Having to let go from those good-bye hugs at the airport is literally physically challenging. I feel like I’ve just run a marathon (okay, I’ve never actually run a marathon, but it looks really difficult). I can’t catch my breath, there’s a tightening in my chest and exhaustion soon sets in.
I have to force myself not to take to my bed with my smelling salts.
On the plus side, I’m finding that I have a quicker recovery time. What used to last weeks is now a matter of days.
Does this mean it gets gradually easier until the post-parting depression goes completely away? Or do I need to learn to brace myself for the inevitable and learn new ways to cope with it?
We may be nuts, but we’re not crazy! Of course we jumped at the chance to spend a few days along Queensland’s Gold Coast.
This dazzling stretch along the Coral Sea has become Australia’s playground for food, fun, surf, and sun.
From our first look at the towering skyline and enticing water off of our balcony at Peppers Broadbeach we knew we had struck gold.
Gold Coast Dreamin’
We couldn’t visit the coast without a stop at Dreamworld, Australia’s largest theme park. With rides like The Buzzsaw, The Cyclone, and The Giant Drop from the Tower of Terror we knew that we were in for a thrill.
What we didn’t know was that we were in for one of the wildest adventures of our lives, feeding an enormous crocodile. That surprise was sprung on us once we entered the park.
It’s hard to say if falling nearly 400 feet from the world’s second highest vertical drop ride helps prepare a person for staring into the teeth of a 1,500 pound eating machine, but we decided to give it a try before heading over to the croc pond.
Figured it would either steady our resolve or make us too weak in the knees to care…
The Dreamworld Corroboree Theater was just the ticket. Built in a replica bush hut called a humpy, the theater runs a film and features interactive exhibits about the local Yugambeh people.
Outside, Aboriginals tell stories and give demonstrations of traditional arts and weapons. Boomerangs and spears seemed downright tranquil compared to a giant mouthful of teeth.
The Gold Coast’s Surf Culture – It All Started with Saving Lives
After a day in the park, and all of the eating going on, it was time for us to do a little chowing ourselves.
From our room at Peppers Broadbeach we could see the Kurrawa Surf Club and heard it was a great spot for some seaside seafood. We heard right but, before digging in, we first dug up a little background.
Each stretch of beach has its own club that oversees safety for the swimmers and surfers in that area. Kurrawa has been keeping beach-goers safe along their beach since 1958.
But the tradition of surf clubs in Australia goes back over one hundred years to when laws against swimming in the ocean were challenged and the beginnings of Surf Life Saving Australia, SLSA, took hold.
Now, over 165,000 members and 65,000 junior members known as Nippers, who range from 5 to 13 years old, participate in beach safety and awareness skills training, as well as competitions.
The clubs have also become social organizations for each neighborhood, with restaurants, banquet rooms, dance halls, and some even have casinos.
Non members like us are allowed to come in as guests, but only if they live outside of the area served by the club. Locals must join.
Certainly no one would hesitate if they knew about the seafood platter for two. This tower of goodies features “A selection of trawler caught seafood… Prawns, sautéed bugs, chilled crab, mussels, oysters, smoked salmon, and flash fried morsels…”
Wait, go back, sautéed bugs? That must mean crawfish, mud bugs, like in Louisiana. But it didn’t, those are known as yabby in Australia.
Bug means Balmain or Moreton Bay bugs, types of slipper lobsters that are a smaller cousin of the spiny lobster. These were something we had never seen, or tasted before. Served as split tails, they had a flavor and texture somewhere between shellfish and fish filet.
We were curious now, and wanted to know what these critters looked like before they found themselves cracked and stacked on our tower.
Going Around the Middle Man – Finding the Bug’s Source
We asked around and the Gold Coast Fishermen’s Co-Op was the place to find them.
Just so happened that it was going on the next morning, so we rented some bikes and pedaled off toward the marina.
The co-op allows a group of boats to set up shop on the docks and sell their morning catch directly off the boat.
It doesn’t get any fresher than that, and we got to see a bug intact.
But we couldn’t figure out how we might go about eating one right on the beach, so we settled on a bag of freshly steamed shrimp, known as prawns down here (and blowing the whole “shrimp on the barbie” quote out of the water!), and sat on the rocks for the ultimate sack lunch.
Fantastic forms fitting the theme of Myths, Legends & Fairy Tales lined the promenade along the Pacific shore in Surfers Paradise and several other of the whimsically named communities, like Mermaid Beach and Paradise Island, along the waterfront.
Entries were judged in several categories including Australia against The World. In that competition two teams of invited artists, one from Australia and the other from around the globe, vied for king of the sandbox.
All in all, over 180 tons of sculpted sand became temporary masterpieces. It seemed a shame that someday these whimsical works of art will be washed away.
Cowabunga! A Less-Than Stellar Attempt at Surfing!
With all of the talk of surfing, and since we were staying right by Surfers Paradise, it seemed like a golden opportunity to give surfing a go.
Our attempts on the long board were somewhat less that cowabunga-worthy, but we did manage to get a few good rides in on the boogie boards.
Maybe we should have tried paddleboards. From what we have seen this in this comprehensive guide they are much easier.
Oh well, even with the multiple wipe outs and tumbles, we were glad we gave it a try.
All in all, an amazing afternoon on Kurrawa Beach – and, luckily, we didn’t require a rescue by a Nipper.
Can You Eat Your Way to Heaven?
That evening, we were lured to Social Eating House + Bar like a cartoon animal floating behind a visible wave of luxurious scent.
Right across the street from our temporary home at Peppers, in the little village of shops and restaurants that surround the hotel, Social was certainly convenient. But that turned out to be way down the list of reasons to love the place.
Decor, style, seating along the kitchen where we watched everything being prepared (dinner and a show!), and the food, ooooooh the food, all topped the list.
Innovative specialities are served in small portions like tapas, enabling us to sample over half a dozen different dishes. It was like an appy crawl without ever leaving our seats.
As the name implies, shared plates equal a truly social experience.
We ordered a couple of dishes to start, then decided what we wanted next by watching orders as they came out of the kitchen.
Looking to spend New Year’s Eve in The Big Apple? The Brooklyn Bridge is both free of charge AND priceless… CONTINUE READING >>
Looking to spend New Year’s Eve in The Big Apple?
Millions do every December 31st, but enduring the crowds and craziness of Times Square sure didn’t appeal to us.
There are numerous clubs with parties and bands all over town, fancy restaurants with special dinners and enormous price tags, hotels with rot-gut champagne packages, cruises on the rivers, and even a lung-busting midnight fun run through Central Park.
But we found a fast growing new tradition for our New York New Year revelry – walking across The Brooklyn Bridge. Both free of charge AND priceless.
Going camping is simultaneously a rite of passage, a cost-effective way to spend a weekend, and a great bonding experience for friends or family. So let’s talk about the six most common ways that camping trips can be ruined and figure out some strategies to make sure that your trip is more fab than drab… CONTINUE READING >>
Going camping is simultaneously a rite of passage, a cost-effective way to spend a weekend, and a great bonding experience for friends or family. However, even though it takes place in the rugged outdoors, having a great camping experience can be a surprisingly sensitive event! You may have heard that all food tastes better when it’s prepared outdoors—and that’s definitely true. But, on the flip side, if any of your gear gets a tiny bit cold or wet—or if you forgot anything important, like your power station—then the entire trip may be ruined.
Let’s talk about the six most common ways that camping trips can be ruined—and figure out some strategies to make sure that your trip is more fab than drab in an actionable, achievable way.
1. Failing to Set Up Camp Appropriately.Things like a tarp under your tent or the so-called ‘optional’ rain fly when the forecast predicts sunny weather might seem like a waste of time or money. However, setting up inadequate gear inappropriately is the easiest way to make sure that you wake up cold, damp, and miserable. Always prepare for weather worse than expected—and take the extra fifteen minutes to set your camp up the way the instructions tell you to!
2. Forgetting that You Need a Power Source.Campers of yesteryear might have been able to get by without a power source, but in today’s day and age, you likely need at least a way to charge your phone or have a light on to head to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Sometimes your car’s battery might suffice for this—and, sometimes, it might not. When you’re shopping for your trip, make sure to pick up a portable power station to make sure that your camping experience goes smoothly.
3. Failing to Put Away the Food Properly.No matter in which region of the nation you’re going camping, there will be wildlife around. That’s part of the reason you wanted to go camping in the first place, right? However, to avoid having unexpected and unwanted visits from large animals in the middle of the night, you need to make sure that you put anything edible back in your car. Otherwise, you might wake up to a bear ravaging your supplies—and that won’t make for a great experience.
4. Not Knowing Your Poisonous Plants.The last thing you need if you’re going on a hike is to come back with uncomfortable welts and rashes. Is the spin-off trail that you’re thinking of going down to see the beautiful gorge covered with poison sumac? Hopefully you know! It’s a good idea to take a few minutes ahead of time to make sure that you know the basic ‘leaves of three, let them be’ types of monikers that can help you know which plants to avoid.
5. Not Wearing Appropriate Gear for Hiking. The one thing that might be able to help you if you don’t know your poisonous plants? Wearing the right types of shoes and pants for hiking. The right shoes can protect you from much more than just an itch, however. There are snakes in the wilderness, and some of them bite to kill. Make sure that you’re fully protected by investing in a good pair of snake boots — the shoe that may literally be able to save your life.
6. Getting to the Campsite Too Late. If you’ve chosen a campsite that’s far away from your home, if you hit traffic on the way there, or if anything happens to get you to your campsite after the sun goes down, you may be in for a bit of a bumpy ride. Setting up a tent properly is not a difficult thing to do—but if you’re doing it with your flashlight held in your mouth, it’s going to be exponentially harder. Not only that, if you’re setting up camp late at night, wildlife is likely to be just waking up—making it easier for small spiders and squirrels to crawl over to see what you’re doing. You’re also more likely to forget to set up your power source, run out of time to build a fire, or forget to put away your food if you’re running late!
Going camping can be a fantastic and economical way to have fun! However, you want to make sure you definitely do it properly, or it can be more an exercise in torture. Be prepared, know your plants, and get ready to have a great time.
We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.
Every once in a while, we are hit over the head by a ton of bricks. While this would normally be cause for concern, this particular brickload is one of gratitude.
We have been blessed with amazing accolades from amazing folks! We have done really fun interviews and have been included in some pretty prestigious publications. We are truly honored. Click in to see why...CONTINUE READING >>
Pretty cool to be featured in one of America’s greatest newspapers, The Chicago Tribune! Okay, so we’re not sure who the people are in the photos—but we’re uber-excited to be in the text.
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We’ve teamed up Humana with tips on kicking YOUR Generation Encore into high, healthy gear with full page advertorial appearing in the August/September 2016 issues Real Simple, Cooking Light, Southern Living, Sunset, Coastal Living, Golf, and Money magazines!
What an honor it is to share our story and tips in top magazines:
“Traveling throughout retirement may not be everyone’s idea of simple living, but David and Veronica say ditching the house was one of the best moves they ever made. ‘We are in a state of nearly constantly pinching ourselves… CONTINUE READING >>
Thank you Nashville for Making Going Gypsy Your #1 Bestseller!
Veronica and David James were living on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands when the last of their three kids flew off to college. Some of us might have opted to stay in that tropical paradise, but the Jameses knew they needed a change… SEE THE FULL STORY
WOW! We were named #1 (!) on Indietravel’s Top 10 Travel Couples! Honored to be among this incredible talent! See the full list here.
We sat down with the fabulous Chloe Jeffreys and discussed helicopter mom recovery, staying connected with our adult kids, reinventing middle-age, and the importance of reinvesting in your marriage after your nest empties.
We had such a great time “glamping” up the California Coast with Toyota!
Becca at Aging Insider calls us “5 Alarm Boomer Bloggers” and in this episode of her fabulous show, she says: “Richard Branson says, ‘Screw it, lets do it!’ and this is a couple who is embracing that motto. The kids left for college and this rockstar couple left for the world…”
A fun little publicity bump we did for BestDay.com while in Cancun, Mexico!
Ace reporter Pam Parker (is that a GREAT journo name or what?) of the Erie Times-News was kind enough to mention us in her hard-hitting write-up on the UFO house in Tennessee! See it here.