Headed to The Grand Canyon!

Whooo-hoooo! We WON the Motel 6 Ultimate Bucket List Contest!

Click in to see our winning entry – we’re just as goofy as ever!

And we’ll be going NEXT WEEK! Lots of fear conquering will be going on – a helicopter ride (gulp), putting our trust in mules as we ride on the edge down the canyon (gasp) and a bike ride along the Rim Trail (yikes)!

See our Grand Canyon Adventure here! >>

 Be sure to follow us everywhere to keep up with our Grand Canyon adventure LIVE!  FacebookTwitterYouTubeGoogle+  –  PinterestInstagram

Whooo-hoooo! We WON the Motel 6 Ultimate Bucket List Contest!

Click in to see our winning entry – we’re just as goofy as ever!

And we’ll be going NEXT WEEK! Lots of fear conquering will be going on – a helicopter ride (gulp), putting our trust in mules as we ride on the edge down the canyon (gasp) and a bike ride along the Rim Trail (yikes)!

See our Grand Canyon Adventure here! >>

 Be sure to follow us everywhere to keep up with our Grand Canyon adventure LIVE!  FacebookTwitterYouTubeGoogle+  –  PinterestInstagram

Jump Up! St. Croix

Four times each year the people of St. Croix take to the streets of Christiansted for Jump Up, a Caribbean flavored festival showcasing music, art, food and dancing.

The town is packed with revelers on the oceanfront boardwalk and throughout the narrow, 18th century Danish streets as native and tourist alike “jump up” and celebrate all things Cruzan.

Traffic is closed to vehicles as pedestrians visit the shops, drink in the bars and streets, eat local dishes and, at every turn… CONTINUE READING >>


Mocko Jumbies on St. Croix Virgin IslandsFour times each year the people of St. Croix take to the streets of Christiansted for Jump Up, a Caribbean flavored festival showcasing music, art, food and dancing.

The town is packed with revelers on the oceanfront boardwalk and throughout the narrow, 18th century Danish streets as native and tourist alike “jump up” and celebrate all things Cruzan.

Traffic is closed to vehicles as pedestrians visit the shops, drink in the bars and streets, eat local dishes and, at every turn, find themselves awash in the sounds of island music.

Christiansted St. Croix street festival Jump UpThe highlight of any Jump Up are the Mocko Jumbies, the fa
mous stilt walkers known for their distinctive dancing.

The meaning comes from Moko, an African god and Jumbi which is a West Indian term for spirits or ghosts, so they are “Good Gods” or “Good Spirits.”

This art form originated in Ghana, West Africa and was adopted by the people of the Caribbean.

It is said by many that Mocko Jumbies ward off the evil Jumbie spirits that roam the St. Croix rain forest by night. History aside, the Mocko Jumbies carry on the tradition of an art form that is pure joy to watch.

Along Queen’s Cross Street are vendors selling pates, (a local dish of fried bread stuffed with beef, chicken or saltfish), kebobs straight off the grill (go for the local lobster ones), and rum drinks with sugarcane juiced right before your eyes.

It’s delicious and educational.

A hint to the newbie…at the bars, order your drinks “stateside” or you may find yourself not remembering your Jump Up experience
at all. On St. Croix, rum is cheaper than everything else in your drink, so it is poured liberally. Ask for the Cruzan Rum, it’s local and it’s exceptional.

Nothing evokes the Caribbean mood like the lively Calypso of a steel pan orchestra and at Jump Up you may have the pleasure of seeing three or four different groups.

Quelbe, the official music of the Virgin Islands, is always in the air. Just look for the Quadrille dancers in the street and there
you’ll find a scratch band keeping Quelbe alive.

Quadrille, an ancestor to traditional square dancing, was once popular throughout the Virgin Islands but now, on St. Croix is perhaps your only chance to see it.

There’s always a Soca or Reggae band or two to scratch that street dancing itch when your feet just have to jump up.

Jump Ups start at 6 PM “island time” and are celebrated in February near Valentines Day, the first weekend in May in conjunction with the Half Ironman Triathlon, just after the fourth of July to commemorate a local boy who made it big, Alexander Hamilton of ten dollar bill fame, and Thanksgiving weekend, a great time to visit St. Croix and to shop for unique Christmas gifts.

Pick something up for family or friends or just give yourself the gift of a great time on St. Croix.

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com

My Dirty Little Secret

 David and I have one chick left in the nest. He graduates from high school in June. And I am marking the days. I keep a gigantic calendar and mark a red X each day. For my son’s sake (and to avoid horrified looks from house guests), I keep the calendar between the mattresses of my bed.

I’m fully aware how bad this looks, so I will explain myself. I LOVE MY KIDS! But, when June 8 rolls around, I will have spent almost twenty five years of my life raising them. I deserve this dirty little secret.

This callousness does not make me impervious to the emotional milestones along the way. I recently received my son’s cap and gown picture taken at his school. My heart literally … CONTINUE READING >>

Dirty Secrets

David and I have one chick left in the nest. He graduates from high school in June. And I am marking the days. I keep a gigantic calendar and mark a red X each day. For my son’s sake (and to avoid horrified looks from house guests), I keep the calendar between the mattresses of my bed.

I’m fully aware how bad this looks, so I will explain myself. I LOVE MY
KIDS! But, when June 8 rolls around, I will have spent almost twenty five years of my life raising them. I deserve this dirty little secret.

This callousness does not make me impervious to the emotional milestones along the way. I recently received my son’s cap and gown picture taken at his school. My heart literally stopped when I saw it. I have spent many moments in the privacy of my bedroom looking at them and wondering how my baby has gotten so big. And in time I will be strong enough to take the photos down from the ceiling above my bed. Maybe when we put the house on the market.

I have learned that it pays to plan to avoid random emotional outbursts. My oldest daughter, The Piglet, will never forgive me the coyote-like howling from the front row aisle seat that occurred at her graduation ceremony. So I have resolved that on June 8, I will not sit at my son’s graduation in the vicinity any of these people:

1) Other mothers graduating their youngest child
2) Single mothers graduating their only child
3) My husband

The school community at large will thank me (I’m kind of notorious).

I have similar plans for my son’s last Tuesday with us, the last macaroni and cheese dinner, his last Dentist appointment and, of course, the last time he throws his shoes and socks off in the middle of the living room floor. Trust me, it pays to have your bases covered when you have the tendency to be an emotional wreak.

If all else fails, I can just take a peek under my mattress…

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Adding Aruba to Our List

We miss The Caribbean. After falling in love with the islands when we vacationed on Tobago twenty years ago, and visiting nearly a dozen other islands through the years, we ended up living on one, St. Croix, up until 2008.

Five years later, we are feeling the need for a refresher dose of island time… CONTINUE READING >>

This post brought to you by Aruba Tourism Authority. All opinions are 100% ours.

Beautiful night time cabana in Aruba

We miss The Caribbean. After falling in love with the islands when we vacationed on Tobago twenty years ago, and visiting nearly a dozen other islands through the years, we ended up living on one, St. Croix, up until 2008.

Five years later, we are feeling the need for a refresher dose of island time.

Palm lined sand in Aruba

Brightly colored buildings in Aruba

We find ourselves longing for the tropical breezes, swaying palms, and brightly colored buildings.

And we really miss the food. It’s been way too long since we had any goat stew, or freshly caught mahi-mahi, wahoo, or spiny lobster. Where could we find all of that, but something different too? We always like a new place to explore.

Festival in Aruba

When the Aruba Tourism Authority asked us to write about why we would like to visit their island, we found our answer. Unlike most of its Caribbean neighbors, Aruba has an arid climate and cultural influences more from nearby South America than The West Indies. Definitely a unique place.

With a quick visit to Aruba.com we could see that the island is also all about pristine beaches and crystal clear water. We love the water, whether we’re boating, fishing, parasailing, or – our favorite – snorkeling. The website features ways to enjoy all of these – another check on the plus side.

Pelicans in Aruba

Then, when we looked a little deeper and discovered that there is a World War Two-era German cargo ship sunken right off Malmok Beach we got really excited. It is very rare indeed to be able to explore a shipwreck without SCUBA gear, much less an historic relic such as The Antillla.

Natural pool in Aruba

Back in 1940, when it eas thought to be supplying German U-Boats, the 400 foot ship was ordered to surrender, but the captain chose to scuttle it in the shallow water instead. Folks on Aruba say that he didn’t want to surrender, but he also wanted to give future tourists a great dive site.

An Aruba happy place.

Granted most would think of Aruba as a winter getaway, but there are factors in favor of a visit in the summer or fall. Like great off-season deals that we found on Aruba travel, and no need to worry about the weather spoiling the trip like it could on other islands. Aruba sits well below the hurricane belt, so there’s little chance of a storm interrupting the trip.

Like most travelers, we keep an ongoing lineup of all of the places we want to see in our heads.

Aruba definitely just jumped up on that list.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Is Aruba on your bucket list too? Have you been to Aruba? Let us know why YOU think we should go! 

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Dotonbori Street in Osaka, Japan


Dōtonbori in Osaka is so much fun! Food, wild signs, food… Find out more about Osaka or enlarge video >>

Kuidaore, a Japanese word meaning “to ruin yourself with extravagant food,” has become synonymous with the city of Osaka. How could we possibly not love this place?

Osaka is the undisputed culinary center of Japan, in fact several writers have proclaimed it the food capital of the world, but we were determined to find the heart of the center. That could only be the small downtown district known as Dōtonbori.

Named for the seventeenth century canal that runs beside the street, Dōtonbori has become the epicenter of kuidaore. For hundreds of years the area was famous as the place for Kabuki theatres, but they are all gone now. Restaurants began replacing them after the war, and with their arrival came some creative signage.

In fact, the competition for most eye-catching advertising extravaganza is nearly as much of a draw as the food. Several signs are tourist attractions in their own right, especially the giant neon Glico Man, famous for being the first on the block.

Almost as popular is the mechanical drumming clown, Kuidaore Taro, who stood guard in front of the Cui-daore Restaurant for years. Since the restaurant closed he has been enshrined at the Nakaza Cuidaore Building, where he draws crowds into the shopping center.

When the crab restaurant Kani Doraku erected their giant mechanized crab sign back in 1960 they kicked off quite a craze of giant animated seafood signs.

Several spectacular giant octopus renditions marking spots for Osaka’s signature dish, takoyaki, vied for our attention.

And a huge blowfish lantern adorned Zubora-ya, a fugu (deadly poison blowfish) restaurant that, believe it or not, we didn’t try.

See more about our night in Dotonbori – we ruined ourselves with food!

Visit our GypsyNester YouTube Channel!