Virginia Zoological Park (photo journal)

22366318_10214832339861888_6834313303789828946_n.jpg Gloomy, rainy weather didn’t stop us from heading out to the Virginia Zoo this weekend. As an animal rights advocate I tend to have a love-hate relationship when it comes to zoos and aquariums. But I can see both sides of the story and know that many zoos are not just out to make money off their acquired living breathing property, but also hope for educating the public on why preservation of these magnificent being is vital. I also know many zoos have visionaries that fight the rights of animals from this angle. Knowing and seeing too well the mass extinctions that are taking place within our animals species habitats as well as species decline due to poaching and other forms ofanimal enslavement and abuse uses.

So when I visit a zoo I usually view with skeptical concerned eyes. But I’m happy to say this zoo does a pretty amazing job with care for their animals and utilizing their position to educate the public and preserve the species that come to live here at the Virginia Zoo. All zoos have room for improvements and recently this zoo had one of their Red Pandas escape because of tree branches. Sadly that Panda was never found. And since then they seem to have implemented more measures for protection of animal and human alike.

22279529_10214839980732905_5163218267207142195_n.jpg My hope always is that those who take on the responsibility of wildlife do so with respect for the animal and their nature and to educate the public on the beauty they possess and that if we do not take care and heed, they may all one day be gone.

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Virginia Zoo

The Elephant In The Room 

Association Of Zoos & Aquariums

Where you been?

The average is 8 for Americans. How do you match up? Put a 🏠where you’ve lived,  ✈where you’ve been and ⭐ where you plan to go, or go again! GET UP, GET OUT & LIVE! Even if you just explore your own hometown! You only get 1 chance to live your life, LIVE BIG!
Alaska ⭐
California 🏠 ⭐
Colorado ⭐
Florida 🏠
Georgia ✈
Illinois ✈
Maine ⭐
Maryland ✈
Michigan ✈
Nevada ✈
New Hampshire
New Jersey ✈
New Mexico
New York ✈ ⭐
North Carolina✈
North Dakota
Ohio 🏠🤞🏽
Oregon ⭐
Pennsylvania ✈
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee ✈
Virginia 🏠
Washington ⭐
Washington Dc ⭐
West Virginia
Asia(India) (Thailand)
Europe ⭐
Caribbean ⭐
Canada ✈ ⭐
Dominican Republic
U.S. Virgin Island ⭐
N.Marian Island

Just a project I was working on at the site of the USS Wisconsin

Thanks to all who serve, all who served and all who will serve! 

“Berthed at Nauticus, the Battleship Wisconsin is one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy. Explore its deck through a self-guided tour or, with an additional charge, our guided Topside Tour that will take you back in time to experience this majestic ship that earned five battle stars during WW II.”

“The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is owned and operated by the United States Navy and located on level two of Nauticus. The museum houses a rich collection of authentic uniforms, weaponry, underwater artifacts, detailed ship models and artwork. For more information, please visit”



“Battleship Wisconsin (BB-64), an Iowa-class battleship, was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 30th state. Her keel was laid down on January 25, 1941 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was launched on December 7, 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Walter S. Goodland, and commissioned on April 16, 1944, with Captain Earl E. Stone in command.”

“After her trials and initial training in the Chesapeake Bay, Wisconsin departed Norfolk, Virginia, on July 7, 1944, bound for the British West Indies. Following her shakedown, conducted out of Trinidad, the third Iowa-class battleship to join the Fleet returned to her builder’s yard for post-shakedown repairs and alterations.”



  • Displacement – 45,000 tons
  • Displacement – 58,000 tons loaded
  • Length – 887′ 3″
  • Beam – 108′ 2″
  • Draft – 37′ 8″
  • Speed – 33 knots
  • Complement – 1,600
  • Armament – 9 16″, 20 5″, 80 40mm., 49 20mm.
  • Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 600 psi boilers, 4 shafts, 212,000 shp
  • Class – Iowa

Battleship Wisconsin Chronology

  • January 25, 1941 – Keel Laid Down by Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard
  • December 7, 1943 – Launched
  • April 16, 1944 – Commissioned
  • July 1, 1948 – Decommissioned
  • March 3, 1951 – Recommissioned for Korean War Service
  • March 8, 1958 – Decommissioned
  • October 22, 1988 – Recommissioned as part of President Reagan’s 600 Ship Navy
  • September 30, 1991 – Decommissioned
  • February 12, 1998 – Reinstated on the Naval Vessels Register, in reserve
  • December 7, 2000 – Battleship Wisconsin Moved To Nauticus Berthing


USS Wisconsin Facebook




Info Source: Battleship Wisconsin

Busch Gardens 07/30/2017


Yesterday was to be Round 1 – Day 07/21 of Shift Shop and it was to be a day of either rest or Shift Mobility. Instead I walked🚶🏽 alllllllllll day lol.  Close friends of ours were heading to Busch Gardens for the day and we hadn’t been there together since 2007 when the Griffon roller coaster🎢 ride first opened there.

It was a short travel to get to Busch Gardens, about an hour. We arrived at around noon and left after Celtic Fyre at about 9pm. It was a long day of walking, burning a whole lot of calories and having fabulous day with friends.

My hubby & I had so much fun even though we didn’t do many rides. Keith did a few of the coasters (If you are in to roller coasters, you’ll LOVE this park) with our friend Jason while me, Jason’s wife Wendy, their son and our friend Rachel (her hubby had to work 😞) and her two girls took the kids for their rides and fun adventures. We all met up after and went to the “More Pet Shenanigans Show”.  😸🐶🕊️🐔🐀🐷All their animals are rescues and they are treated really well. The show was realllllly cute and funny. The video below wasn’t the show we attended (this was posted last year) but all the animals seemed to be super happy and having fun. All the dogs were wagging their tails and looked loved.




The whole layout of Busch Gardens is really beautiful, with lots of places to stop and rest in the shade and get cool drinks. We did a meal package plan which was very reasonably priced for a theme park. And the food, although cafeteria style was delicious, with healthier options available. There are adventures and experiences for all ages and the park is kept clean (even the bathrooms).

After the More Pet Shenanigans Show, we all kind of went our separate ways. Jason and Wendy headed home and Rachel and the girls went over to have fun with the Sesame Street Show and fun play area. Keith and I went to see Britmania, a musical show about the British invasion of music into the U.S., it was a fun show especially if you are a fan of musicals and music. After that we grabbed some dinner in Canada since we had done lunch in England. The park is divided up by hamlets to be able to travel your way around the park. Each of the hamlets has their own shops with fare that would be from that hamlet. From baked goods, to jewelry.


  • Banbury Cross (England)
  • Heatherdowns (Scotland)
  • Sesame Street Forest of Fun
  • Killarney (Ireland)
  • San Marco (Italy)
  • Festa Italia (Italy)
  • Rhinefeld (Rhineland Germany)
  • Land of the Dragons
  • Oktoberfest (Bavarian Germany)
  • Aquitaine (France)
  • New France (French Canada)


After dinner we headed to Celtic Fyre, which was the show we were most looking forward to seeing! If you like celtic song and dance, you would be mesmerized by their performance! It was Broadway level showmanship and artistry. We would go back just to see this show again! Below is a promo for the show.



We headed homeward bound after Celtic Fyre. I ended up burning about 1, 400 😯calories just walking around all day! So all in all it was a pretty ✨magical ✨day





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Point Pleasant NJ Family Vacation 2017


Day 1 🌞🚙🌤️🍕

Thank you Mom, Dad, Tori and Barry for making this all happen!

We’ve been waiting for this kind of vacation a long time! And the family was waiting for this reunion for 12 years! That was the last time they were all together as a family. So this was super special. The ride there was beautiful. And you’ll hear that word thrown around a lot in this blog post 😄 So we drove from Virginia Beach to the Jersey Shore (Point Pleasant NJ/Beach) and we had great weather for the drive and very few stops. We were just excited to get there.


When we arrived, not everyone was there yet and wouldn’t be until Tuesday. We stayed at the Sand Pebble Motor Lodge in the Victorian. We were upstairs in a three bedroom suite (which was in itself two floors). We stayed with Keith’s parents, his brother Barry, sis-in-law Tori and their two littles (kids). The place was HUGE. His brother and fam was on the second floor of our suite, they had a massive bedroom with a king size bed, a huge bathroom with tub and a HUGE walk in closet that was actually used as the kids playroom, yeah it was that big. We think it may have originally been a small bedroom that they converted into a massive walk in closet. We were downstairs, where there were two bedrooms and a HUGE bathroom and kitchen. The living room was pretty big too. The kitchen was fully equipped and stocked with utensils, pots, pans, dishes, etc…. Keith’s big brother stayed downstairs in another suite (the steps in the first pic below show the entrance to their suite, we were on floor 2). Their suite was also roomy, a big two bedroom with large kitchen. 

We arrived around dinner time and so we just had pizza and enjoyed time with family. After dinner we took a walk down to the boardwalk (which was open till midnight) to walk around and get some desert.



Day 2 ☀️⛱👙🌊 🚂

Sunshine and blue skies! Time to hit the beach!!! The beach was nice. When staying at the Sand Pebble you can get a discount for tickets to Jenkinson’s Beach. Now this was something I had never heard of, people owning parts of the beach and you paying to get on their beach. Here is VB we don’t have that. We either have public beaches or private beaches that you can only access if you are staying someplace on that beach. 

The beach ended up being $2 a day per person after the lodge discount. Not bad I suppose. It pays for having a clean beach, and lifeguards everywhere. You feel pretty safe at this beach. It was beautiful!!

We went our own way for a bit and ended up at a cozy diner, Beach Diner and had a quick dinner while watching the trains go by. 

Afterwards we headed back down to the boardwalk for the kids to all ride rides (lots of good ones for the kids), play carny games and get desert at the The Black Anchor Coffee House, which was delicious!!!!


Day 3 🌤️📷🥗

Most of this day was just very family oriented. We took family photo’s and just spent time reconnecting and connecting. The day before Aunt Kate (Keith’s Mom’s sister) and her hubby Uncle Mike also came down and joined us and took family photo’s for us. 


Aunt Kate & Uncle Mike

We all went out to dinner at Frankie’s. I had a salad and was disappointed they didn’t even have bread sticks let alone bread. But my salad was good! And everyone just enjoyed spending time with each other. After all, for some it had been 12 years since they last saw each other. Keith (my hubby) had not seen his oldest brother Scott in 12 years! Scott and Nauko’s oldest was just a baby boy when he last saw them. And I had never met them. They live all the way in Washington State. So this really was a special time for all of us!


Day 4 🌥️📷🐸🦉🐧🐢🐠🐡🦐🐍🌦️⛈️

Jenkinson’s Aquarium was how we spent most of the day. It was a pretty laid back day with a few raindrops. And the start of some thunderstorms. It was a good day for an indoor experience. 

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To be honest, I really thought the aquarium was just going to be a roadside afterthought kind of place. I was even worried I would see mistreatment,neglect or bad conditions here. But it was the complete opposite. They were cleaning all the time, the animals looked happy and well fed. And happily I found this place to be very conscientious about animal welfare and sustainability. They had displays everywhere for conservation, animal protection, rescue, preservation and keeping the waterways clean of debris. I was pretty impressed with this little aquarium. They care a lot about their residents and the animal world. 

ps….their seal, Luseal wasn’t always alone here. Luseal is a rescue and so was the other resident seal. Sadly Luseal’s companion passed away recently. From what they said they are hoping to be able to take in another rescued seal.


Day 5 ⛈️☔💦🥙🚂

Rain, thunder, lightening, downpours! But it was still a pretty awesome day. We hung around the house for a while and hung out with family and then met with one of Keith’s old friends and her hubby for dinner. We had met once before and have been Facebook friends, but I haven’t seen her since Keith and I first got together! She even got married since then and moved out of Jersey to PA and then back to Jersey. So it was time to catch up! Unfortunately for whatever reason, we completely forgot to snap any pictures. But it was a fun evening playing catch up at Beach Diner with good friends we don’t get to see often enough!

And we did make tentative plans to get together some time during the holidays! And next time, we will take pictures!!


Day 6 Headed Home….☀️😢🌊⛴

All good things I suppose have an ending, or at least a, till next time. And we’ve already decided there will be a next time. We have solo trip plans and plans that involve group vacations back to Point Pleasant. We also determined that we can’t let so much time go by with us not seeing the littles. Keith is godfather to the two littlest niece and nephew and since they are in New Jersey and us in Virginia, we decided we need to start meeting at some half way points, even if only for weekends here and there so we can all see each other. Time slips away and we may ourselves eventually move further away so we have to find the time and take the time to spend with family while we can!

Look close, there be a dolphin swimming! We saw dolphin pods and I saw a whale!!

We grew closer to family who are in Washington State too and we may even move there one day soon, who knows. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to live and Keith’s job could potentially come up with a transfer there.  But either way we have to make it happen that we see each other more. Kids need family bonds and although it’s hard when people are so transient now and tend to live in other states, or even countries, to make the effort to remember that kids needs to know family.

We all had a quick lunch together back at Frankie’s and then a quick run back down to the boardwalk for us to grab this massive apple (we had at the beginning of the trip, soooo good!) and some taffy, as well as a new wall hanging for our ocean(esq) living room!

It was especially nice for Keith, Scott and Barry’s parents to see us all, and see us all together. Time keeps moving and before you know it, 12 years have gone by.  I think we all learned a valuable lesson while having a beautiful and memorable family vacation!

💙Till next we meet….

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This Sunday’s Blog Share (a lil late) – The 4 Stages of Expat Island Life


Keith and I are hoping to move to Hawaii for at least a couple years (maybe sooner than later) and so I’m drinking up all I can about island life and relocating to a new area. And also on our list for maybe someday is to move to an island outside the USA. My mentor Amy Silverman moved to Puerto Rico to be able to live an island lifestyle and to me it breathes perfect life. I’m an island girl at heart, and the beach is where I want to sink my toes into and the ocean calls my name!

So I love seeing blogs like this that will help prep us for island life and maybe living outside the USA some day (we want to live a lot of places for short amounts of time until we find “home”)! Thanks to Women Who Live On Rocks for this great blog!

“Island expat life teaches you not only about a new country, but a lot about yourself.”

The 4 Stages of Expat Island Life

Yoga and a long beautiful walk through the Botanical Gardens…


Saturday the hubby and I had a morning yoga session at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. The gardens host quite a few different community projects as well as certificate programs in Floral Design. It was a gorgeous cool spring day and a perfect way to spend Saturday morning together! The class was very beginner friendly and the instructor, Charlotte was amazing! She also teaches Yin Yoga at the The Space Above Yoga Center


After yoga, we received free admission with the cost of the yoga class. What a beautiful way to spend a Saturday morning, yoga to restore surrounded with nature’s beauty. It was a magical day! 


It was peaceful and kind of meditative at times. Even though we’ve live in this area nearly 9 years, my hubby’s never been to the Botanical Gardens before. So this made the day extra special.



I’ve been to the Gardens with visiting friends during the height of tourist season and it was beautiful. But it was hot and can get crowded. I’ve always recommended people travel here during off season. No lines, hotels are less expensive, and events are less crowded. So plan two trips to the area. One for relaxing and one to take in all the tourist vibe events! 


So now come take a walk with us as we explore the

Norfolk Botanical Gardens


“There is unspeakable beauty and potential to be found in nature. It entices me and is an invitation I just have to accept.”  ~Jil Ashton-Leigh 



“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~Albert Einstein




“It is no longer sufficient to describe the world of nature. The point is to defend it.” ~Edward Abbey

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
~George Gordon Byron



“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


“‘Is the spring coming?’ he said. ‘What is it like?’ …

‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth.'”

~Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden



“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring



“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

~John Muir, Our National Parks




“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.”

~Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums








“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”  

~Henry David Thoreau





“Whoever loves and understands a garden will find contentment within.”

~Chinese proverb





As we walked through the Enchanted Forest, the birds became hyper aware and greeted us as we passed by! It was magical!

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“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

~ Lao Tzu

Sadly it was closed, the Butterfly House is a summer event.


But the Butterfly Garden was blooming!



In a field of roses, she is a wildflower.



“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” ~William Shakespeare




“The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.”

~Claude Monet



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The Rose Garden


“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”

~Dale Carnegie

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“Take time to smell the roses.”


Hope you enjoyed the tour of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. We highly recommend it for a low key, long walk kind of day filled with beauty. 


Susan & Keith


Some of the world’s best vegetarian and vegan cities

Lucky Leek, Berlin If you are vegan or vegetarian, it’s easier than ever find places to eat when you travel. One of the restaurants on my list even won best new restaurant in Canada,……

continue reading   …..Some of the world’s best vegetarian and vegan cities

My World Wanders Article

Traveling can be expensive unless you learn to do it right. My husband and I are trying to learn all the ins and outs of travel on a budget and articles like this put it into perspective.

Are you traveling to experience the food, or the culture? Are they one and the same? Set your priorities. If you can live of PBJ and water while traveling somewhere you would otherwise not be able to afford, why not embrace the PBJ?

I love these tips from Jesse over at My World Wanders!

Happy Holidays my dear readers and fellow adventurers. This seemed like an appropriate topic to cover on the holiday 🙂 Yes I know this article has been done a million times, by much better …

Continue reading here ….How do I afford to travel so much?

Wintertime Blues

Wintertime giving you the blues? Submerge yourself in thoughts of these beautiful blue and sunny beaches!
Also from art of being fabulous 

Five awesome beach destinations