Florida Manatees: Where to Spot the Gentle Giants

With March fast approaching, time is running out to see the manatees this year. These gentle giants are most certainly worth a visit. So if you can, head on down to Florida’s west coast for the best viewing possibilities… CONTINUE READING >> 

Florida Manatee swimming

November to March is the time to head to Florida for spectacular manatee sightings. These gentle giants head for warmer climates in the winter, much like their human snowbird counterparts. Here are our tips to having a manatee-filled getaway.

First, Learn to Spot Them

Ft. Pierce on Florida‘s east coast is chock-full- o’- manatees! We had heard from the locals that in the evening the manatees move from inland to the ocean, so we decided watch for them from a bridge. Our first excited sighting came when we discovered bubbles rising to the surface… See more about the area where we spotted these guys

Snorkel with Manatees at Homosassa River

The Florida Aquifer feeds the Homosassa River on the west coast and manatees are known to swim several miles up the stream to congregate near the source. We chose this area for our snorkel tour because it is usually less crowded than other places, the water is often clearer, and the added bonus of getting to see some monkeys. Yup, monkeys. More on swimming with manatees

Visit Blue Springs State Park

Blue Springs State Park in Florida - fun of manatees!

Blue Spring is a first magnitude spring, pouring forth over one hundred million gallons of water a day, and like the springs around Crystal River, the water stays a constant seventy-two degrees year round. So manatees love it, and many will swim miles up the St. Johns River to get to it. The park has extensive viewing areas… More on Blue Springs State Park

Visit the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs

In the crystal clear waters of Weeki Wachee Springs there reside mermaids, seriously. We wouldn’t make up something like this. As a matter of FACT, the Florida State Park Service is a leader in the preservation of these exotic rare creatures. We were lucky enough to have the chance to observe their graceful antics in a natural habitat and manatees joined in the show! More on the Mermaids and Weeki Wachee Springs

Hit the Manatee Festival

Save the Manatees!

For almost thirty years, the Orange City / Blue Springs Manatee Festival has been raising funds to preserve the manatee population. The festival is a really fun fair, with food, music, booths and comfy busses are provided to shuttle folks to manatee viewing experiences. More on the Manatee Festival

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Click here for all of our manatee-filled escapades!

See all of our Florida antics!

YOUR TURN: Have you a hankerin’ to see a manatee now?

Home Cooking on the Run

There are certain challenges to living on the run, not the least of which is cooking. This means we are always on the lookout for easy, portable, time saving ways to have fresh, hot food while we gallivant across the globe…
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After our youngest went off to college we sold our home, bought a beat up old RV, and took off on what we called our Victory Lap. The idea was that we would take a year or so off to travel around North America to see the sights and old friends and family.

We figured the old motorhome would die before too long and that would be our signal to go back to our previous lives. But that didn’t happen. That old RV ran and ran for nearly four years and one hundred thousand miles!

By the time it died we were hooked, so we bought another, and then another, and ended up living in them for almost ten years. There must have been something that appealed to us about living in small spaces, because now we live on a boat.

Yes, I am telling you all of this to get to a point, which is, there are certain challenges to living on the run like this, not the least of which is cooking. This means we are always on the lookout for easy, portable, time saving ways to have fresh, hot food while we gallivant across the globe. We are not talking burgers and hot dogs either; we want a variety of interesting and tasty home cooking while on the go.

So we were thrilled when we discovered myasiancooking.com and these fun Asian cooking kitchen gadgets.

Asian cuisine has long been one of our favorites, but neither one of us has managed to master cooking rice. We even took a cooking class while cruising in China and still can’t seem to get it right every time.

Good thing that one of these gadgets is a rice cooker. Better yet, it works off of the power socket (you know, that round thing us old folks still call a cigarette lighter) inside a car, RV, or boat.

Now we can have perfect rice in about half an hour, anytime and anyplace. It makes up to one liter, which is just right for the two of us.

Of course safety is a concern when cooking on the go, so we were glad to learn about the technology used in this ingenious little cooker. It uses special self-regulating ceramic heating discs known as positive temperature coefficient which provide safe, powerful, and energy-efficient heat in a very small space.

Better yet, it will not over heat and turns itself off if you forget to. The cooking surface is nonstick and it even comes with a measuring cup and spoon.

While the rice cooker is our favorite, there are several other clever products listed in the story too. Stuff like a combination Lunch Box / Portable Travel Food Warmer so a hot lunch is readily available even on the run, or a travel kettle for steaming hot coffee or tea anytime anywhere.

You mean we can have coffee without ever leaving our hotel room? Yes, please!

But we love these kinds of gadgets, not only for their convenience but also for their money saving capabilities. That’s right, think of all the travel savings you can pocket by not going out for quick meals, snacks, and drinks all of the time.

Even if you don’t live on the run like we do, that is something everybody likes.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Identifying Problems in the Present with Cognitive Psychotherapy

The objective with cognitive psychotherapy is to examine thinking and behavior, along with the patient’s ways of communicating, that are happening in the here and now rather than exploring events from the past. This creates opportunities to find changes that can improve life for the patient overall… CONTINUE READING >> 

After coming through a mental health crisis caused by the pandemic last year, our family has certainly learned a lot. That is why we were so pleased to be asked by BetterHelp.com  to share our experiences, along with more information, in this series of articles.

We have talked about several aspects of treatments, as well as the variety of therapy styles and options in those essays, but here we would like to focus on Cognitive Psychotherapy.

The objective with cognitive psychotherapy is to examine thinking and behavior, along with the patient’s ways of communicating, that are happening in the here and now rather than exploring events from the past. This creates opportunities to find changes that can improve life for the patient overall.

The therapist works with the patient, often through homework assignments, to identify and improve thoughts and beliefs in the moment, and then to begin implementing the techniques in a real-world setting.

In our family’s particular case, this method was remarkably successful when followed up by pursuing additional treatments and therapies. After being assessed, worksheets and reading material were used to evaluate, educate, and keep track of the progress our patient was making.

Throughout the process, thinking and behaviors were being identified that led to anxiety or pain so that methods to help make better decisions could be applied immediately. These were learned in order to help identify realistic or unrealistic expectations as they happen. With this comes an understanding of how to react properly.

Then these skills can be used going forward so that the patient can practice them even after the therapy has been completed.

Many of the issues we faced, along with so many other people through the difficult days of this pandemic, can be treated with cognitive therapy. Problems ranging from, anxiety or panic, to anger, depression, or substance abuse can all expect good results when the patient works well with their therapist.

With the help of BetterHelp.com, the treatment can be pursued with a therapist either online or face to face. We feel strongly that this is an important point, especially with the situation that we face with restrictions and social distancing for the foreseeable future.

Of course, choosing a therapist is an extremely important part of this process, or any therapy, so let’s take a look at a few ideas we have gleaned from our recent situation.

First, it is imperative that the relationship works on a personal level. It is difficult at best to share intimate details of your life and struggles with anyone, much less with someone who you do not feel you have a connection or trust to build on. In our case a change of therapists was made after the first week or so and we have no doubts that it helped the connection between patient and therapist.

The new therapist went on to be quite successful because there was a level of trust and understanding between them. Part of that trust is knowing that the therapist you choose is qualified and trained in the issues that are affecting you.

It is nearly as important to look for ways to keep the process as convenient as possible. Ideally, the therapy can be conducted with a minimal amount of disruption to daily life. This is another reason that online treatment can be especially beneficial.

Online therapy also opens up possibilities for choosing a therapist that may not be in your area, giving patients a much larger group to select from.

All of this adds up to making it easier to find help and complete treatment when it is needed, and we all can agree that is a good thing.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

For more about BetterHelp.com and their programs, please see these previous articles we have shared here on GypsyNester.com:

Some Observations about Online Therapy

Anxiety is Almost Unavoidable These Days

Don’t Let the Cost Stop You from Seeking Help

Exploring the Different Types of Therapy

Mardi Gras Goes to the Dogs in Lafayette, LA!

Mardi Gras may be a little more laid back this year (or not) but we can still take a look back at Lafayette’s Krewe des Chiens Annual Dog Parade from a few years ago. Laissez les bons temps rouler! CONTINUE READING >> 

Lafayette’s Krewe des Chiens Annual Dog Parade is a must-do. This parade is geared toward children, but brings out the dog lover in all of us. Vibrantly costumed fur babies proudly trot down Lafayette’s downtown streets as both participants and spectators. Everyone has a grin on their snout as beads are thrown, puppies are rescued and donations are accepted for Acadiana’s less fortunate furry friends!

To see more about this event and how Mardi Gras is celebrated outside of New Orleans: https://www.gypsynester.com/mardigras.htm

Delve deeper:
See our entire journey discovering Mardi Gras outside of New Orleans
Visit the crazy Courir de Mardi Gras, in Church Point – chicken chasing!
Check out the authentic celebrations in Eunice and Mamou
Go hog wild at an old-fashioned Boucherie meat fest!
Watch dogs celebrate Mardi Gras at the Krewe des Chiens Dog Parade
Find out how to get booze at a drive-thru window
Join us at the parades in Jeanerette and Lafayette
Learn more about the Acadian, Canadian, and Cajun connection
See our thank you to the mysterious person at the Dog Parade who commited a wonderful act of kindness!

Visit our GypsyNester YouTube Channel!

Some Observations about Online Therapy

Please ask for help if anxiety and stress are getting to be too much to deal with. There are a number of options available, so keep looking for what works for you. With that in mind, we would like to discuss one that we feel is the most accessible, online therapy… CONTINUE READING >> 

Even with the vaccine becoming more available this pandemic has taken a mental toll on many of us. In fact, I think the release of these vaccines might even have made it worse in the short term for some of us.

It seems to me that the “light at the end of the tunnel” effect of knowing there is a vaccine could be adding to our stress levels. After our initial euphoria from the good news of effective vaccinations we encounter the disappointment of learning just how long it may take to get one and that there is still likely quite some time before life will return to something that resembles normal.

In our family, we had one member breakdown quite severely back at the beginning of the pandemic. We all rallied and dealt with it throughout the spring and summer months but now, after weeks of intensive therapy, we are happy to report that things are well under control. Still, it was exceptionally difficult and downright terrifying while it was happening.

To protect privacy I won’t go into too much detail, suffice it to say we were directly involved and had very little experience in how to help in a situation such as this. Luckily we have friends that could help and guide us to the proper treatments and programs.

We now know a whole lot more than we did back then. It was a massive learning experience so we are happy to offer some hopefully helpful guidance from our new found understanding.

First and foremost we learned that you can’t go it alone. Please, please do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help if anxiety and stress are getting to be too much to deal with. There are a number of options available, so keep looking for what works for you. With that in mind, right now we would like to discuss one possibility that we feel is perhaps the most accessible, which is online therapy, specifically with BetterHelp.com.

Above and beyond the obvious social distancing value of virtual meeting with a therapist during the ongoing pandemic, there are other advantages. Let’s take a look at a few.

In our mind, the most important benefit is the removal of the stigma that often comes with going to see a therapist. Even though I think we almost all know now days that there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking mental health help, there is still a level of discomfort or embarrassment that many of us feel when confronted with it.

Understandably, the ability to pursue therapy from the privacy of your own home eliminates most of that uneasiness. Hopefully the familiar and relaxed surroundings serve to increase the comfort level as well, which can only add to the success of the treatment.

It also does away with the time, cost, and stress of having to drive back and forth to and from the appointments. Speaking of appointments, having online access also provides increased communication with the therapist because, in addition to the video chats with the therapist, you can message whenever any issues might arise.

Another good point could be that couples therapy is made more accessible in those instances where both partners can’t be together due to travel, work, or other circumstances. Online counseling can be much more flexible when it comes to meeting these needs.

Still, there are some people who are simply uncomfortable with video therapy. Even though facial expressions, tone of voice, and overall body language are quite apparent with online therapy, it can be that some patients may feel seeing their therapist in person is necessary to make a strong connection. That is certainly understandable.

It can also be challenging for some patients, especially if they are not very tech savvy, to manage video conferencing. In those cases face to face meetings will be more conducive to reaching better outcomes.

But no matter how you seek help when feeling overwhelmed, we cannot reiterate enough the need to find a path that works for you. Help is out there and there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

For more about Betterhelp.com and their programs, please see these previous articles we have shared here on GypsyNester.com:

Anxiety is Almost Unavoidable These Days

Don’t Let the Cost Stop You from Seeking Help

Exploring the Different Types of Therapy