Hotel lobby chandeliers tell my family that I have arrived safe and sound

Traveling for business can be exciting but one is still far away from family and friends. A fun way to say that you have arrived at your hotel is to snap a photo of the lobby chandelier and send a quick text message.

It is amazing just how different the lights are from hotel to hotel, even if you are a loyal customer to one hotel chain. A quick text message and a photo brings your family into the moment and lets them know you have arrived safely.

Find the best fall leaf color near you

The days are getting shorter and the nights a getting colder. Leaves on the deciduous trees are turning from their summer green to an assortment of yellow, orange and red. As the chlorophyll in the leaves begins to break down, the green color disappears and the pinks, browns, and yellows in the leaves begin to show.

Take a look at the Fall Foliage Map to get an idea of when the leaves will be turning and where you can go to see the best color.


Architectural details, flowers, and decorative elements

While you are moving through the world, pause to look at the small details that surround you.  Whether you are on a vacation or a business trip, or simply walking around the place where you live, slow down and see all that you can see.



A trip to the Orchid Garden in Singapore

Singapore is absolutely beautiful. I have been three times but I haven’t really even seen this amazing island country in Southeast Asia. Each time, I have been on a business trip with little time to explore the island. On my last trip to Singapore, I made sure to give myself an hour and to visit one small wonder in Singapore. It was the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The Gardens were amazing. To see orchids thriving and arranged in so many different ways was remarkable. To highlight how wonderful it is, the Botanic Gardens was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. The Gardens is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. There are so many amazing gardens around the world, so this is quite a feat.

Look for a botanical garden in a city you are visiting and spend time enjoying the flowers and designs, you won’t be disappointed. Here a few to consider that I have visited:

Hampstead Heath, London, U.K

Jardin des Plantes, Paris, France

Singapore Botanic Garden, Singapore

United States Botanic Garden, Washington DC, U.S.

VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, British Columbia

Picking apples at a farm near you

It’s apple season and there are orchards and markets across the country overflowing with apples. There are pies to be made, apple butter to cook and harvest festivals to attend.

Before you bite into that next apple, here’s a bit about its history:

The apple tree originated in Western Asia, where you can sill find its wild ancestor today. Archeologists have found evidence that humans have been enjoying apples since at least 6500 B.C. After thousand years of cultivation, there are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of characteristics from color to crispness. Apples were brought to North America with colonists in the 1600s, and the first apple orchard was said to have been planted near Boston in 1625. Apples must cross-pollinate to develop fruit. With the large decline in natural bee populations over the recent years, apple growers usually bring in hives of pollinators to carry the pollen during the flowering season.

With apples being grown all across the country, there’s probably a festival near you. Find an orchard or festival and have fun!


Trail hiking and fishing in Virginia

One of the great things about the Charlottesville, Virginia area is the variety of outdoor activities that are available. We have mountains to hike, rivers to raft and beautiful state and local parks to explore. Walnut Creek Park is one of the many gems in the countryside that you should definitely visit. Walnut Creek is in Albemarle County, just a short 15-minute drive south of Charlottesville. You can rent a canoe, play frisbee golf on a large course or swim in the lake during the warm months of the year. There are miles of mountain biking trails for riding enthusiasts. The bike trails are also great for walking, but you do you need to pay attention and be ready to step aside when bikers are coming.

I have recently been spending quite a bit of time at Walnut Creek Park. The park is a great place to take a dog for an on-leash walk. You can walk through the woods on different trails that are tagged based on their difficulty. You can also walk on a lovely trail that winds its way around the end of the lake.

If you are a fisherman, you need to bring your rod and reel out to Walnut Creek Park. I have seen folks fishing from the sides of the lake, as well as from boats that they have launched themselves. You could also fish from one of the many canoes that are available for rent.

All in all, Walnut Creek Park is a great place to spend an hour or an entire day.

Fog on the water at Walnut Creek Park, Charlottesville, VA