A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Lumpy4Square

Turks and Caicos

December 29-January 5, 2023

Day 1

Flights here were fast, with no issues. My plane from Charlotte to TCI was literally half full, I'm guessing due to all the delays that SouthWest had. My airline was American, but maybe they had issues that I didn't know about. Hardly anyone was on the plane and I had my row to myself (yay!). After arriving at TCI, there was a long outside ramp to walk down from the plane and I was immediately hit with the heat and humidity. Coming from a cold place, I soaked it in the heat and sunshine. I passed airport personnel holding up umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun. I said "you don't know how wonderful this sun and heat feels" and they said, "this is our life every day, we need protection." Fair enough! I wish I had that problem.


I had signed up for Fast Track TCI and I saw the representative before I entered the immigration area. She put a band on me and sent me the down the "express" lane, however, I was the only person in line. I glanced at the non-fast track lines and no one was in them, but again, I didn't have luggage so I really don't know if the normal lanes eventually had lines or not.

I rented a car from Grace Bay Car Rentals because they are next to the airport and they were highly recommended on Reddit. They had an office inside the airport, I stopped there, and the representative said to walk across the street to the office to pick up my car. I did so, and they had me fill out the rest of my paperwork, and pay, and they walked me to my car. My car was a right-side drive Suzuki Swift Hybrid. We both looked at the car, wrote notes on any previous damage, and took pictures. They gave me my keys, and off I was to figure out how to drive on the left.


They drive on the left here, and before I came I was so stressed about driving on the left. The last time I had done it was in 1998 in Sydney, Australia, but it was only 1/2 mile, so it doesn't count. But to my credit, I did fantastic driving on the left. After the first few roundabouts, I got it down. Now I feel like a native driving on the left and doing the correct thing in the roundabouts (give way to the right and if I am going all the way around, use my signal). However, I keep hitting the wipers instead of the turn signals because those are reversed. (update: I'm back home and am having a hard time using my turn signals, and am instead turning on my wipers).

Google Maps was great with the GPS and lead me to my first stop, IGA Graceway. It was one roundabout away from my Airbnb. I stopped to pick up food. Single-use plastics are banned in TCI, so they had paper bags, which they charged for. As for the prices, omg. I went to buy a loaf of honey wheat bread that I have at home and it was $9.00. They use USD here, btw. Beyond Beef veggie burgers were $16! I ended up buying bread, mayo, different cheese slices, chips, and Kraft mac and cheese. This is NOT what I would eat at home, but it seemed the most economical to me to eat here.

When I arrived at my Airbnb, it was exactly as described. I got in, placed all my belongings on the kitchen table, and went into the bedroom/bathroom area. It was separated from the kitchen by an outside door. All looked great. I went back into the kitchen area to put my food in the cabinets and fridge and saw... roaches!!!!! Mother fucking roaches. I immediately put everything I had purchased at IGA in the fridge, thinking all of my food would be safe there. I WhatsApp'd my host about the roaches, and he said he would be by with spray.

That didn't comfort me and I absolutely didn't want to stay here. At all. I searched Airbnb, plus hotels, and any accommodation really, and there were no rooms anywhere on the island. To be fair, it was a few days before New Year's Eve so I understand, but it was so frustrating. I immediately put everything back into my car except my toiletries and the clothes I was wearing. I am not bringing home roaches! I am so grossed out that I don't want to touch anything in this Airbnb. After I saw the roaches I checked for bedbugs, luckily there are none plus he has a mattress protector on, which was worse than I expected.


What frustrates me is that after my stay I checked his reviews. He never allowed my review to go up, but someone stayed after me and their review stated: "It was an okay stay - the biggest inconvenience was that there were lots of insects (small roaches and flies) in the kitchen area as soon as we arrived, including in all the cupboards. They stuck around."

I was so generous and gave him 4 stars ONLY because he promised to take care of the roaches. I really wanted to give him 3 stars. The room was as described and the bathroom was fine. But there were roaches in the kitchen. I didn't want to ding him for that assuming it was a fluke. Because he refused to publish my review, here are my videos. Plus the link to the Airbnb.

Here are the bugs.

Day 2

Woke up at 6 am, needed coffee, and even though I bought some, there was no way I was touching anything in that kitchen. I see the host dropped off a can of Raid, but he didn’t actually spray it, I guess he left it up to me. I had a boat to catch at 845am, so I drove to Bay Bistro and had coffee and a fruit plate for breakfast.


After breakfast, my boat pulled up on the beach and I had a wonderful 5 hours of snorkeling and chilling with a few iguanas on Little Water Cay. I didn't know people actually fed them, my eco-minded self said that was illegal, as it should be. So when I was walking solo through the dunes (I asked if it was ok since a lot of places around the world the dunes are off limits) I spotted my first iguana, then another, and then another. They started following me. More showed up that I didn't see before. I was a bit freaked out because they are tiny dinosaurs and I didn't know if they were pissed I was walking in their territory or if they were mad about something else. As I'm walking away from them getting these awful thorns stuck in my feet, I the others from my boat appear out of the tall grass walking towards me following the tour guide from my boat. And yes, the tour guy was feeding them. He was just dipping the end of a stick into a small chunk of pineapple, but they all rushed around him. I don't think that is right, but it's not my call, and I realized the mini dinosaurs aren't trying to eat me, they wanted me to feed them.

It was a fun trip and snorkeling was amazing. This was actually my very first snorkeling trip, so when I got in at the reef and stuck my face in the water, it literally took my breath away. It was so clear and so stunning, it was just like you see on Discovery Channel shows. It was an entire world that I had never seen firsthand before. It was almost unreal. It was a life memory I will never forget.

We eventually got back on the boat, the ladder was easy for my knees but I did have to time walking up with the waves. They served us fresh fruit and rum punch. The rum punch was great, I'm not gonna lie. We headed back to Coral Gardens beach and they turned on the music. I'm not opposed to music, but holy fuck this music was loud. It was so loud it kept setting off my Apple Watch with "Loud Environment" warnings.


After the boat dropped us off, I had lunch at Bay Bistro, went back to my roach-infested Airbnb, enjoyed the sunset, and went to bed.


DAY 3 New Year's Eve

Woke up with my roach friends, I was too afraid to touch anything, so I went to Coral Gardens and ate at Somewhere Cafe, I ate a great breakfast with a mimosa to start the day.


This location is at the Windsong Resort, so because I’m not staying at the resort (unfortunately!!) I can’t use their umbrellas. There is a guy renting them, and that cost me $70 for the entire day. Ouch. But I paid for it, and I snorkeled the entire day at Coral Gardens Reef. What an amazing experience. The reef has a protected area sectioned off, it is clear as day with the ropes and buoys, but of course, plenty went into the protected area. The poor guy from Windsong Resort has to stand there blowing a whistle at the idiots until they swim out of the area. I talked to him about it, and he just shook his head and said he doesn't understand why people are the way they are.

I returned to my roach Airbnb and texted the host saying this is gross, I have no idea how to rate him. I don’t want to kill his income stream but at the same time, these roaches did not just appear. And why didn't any previous Airbnb guests not mention the roaches in their reviews? Especially those who were here 2 weeks earlier?!

It was New Year’s Eve and how wonderful it was to fall asleep not hearing gunshots or fireworks.


The next morning, the host called to see if it was ok to send 2 cleaning people around. He did, and they sprayed and mopped and cleaned. I stayed at the Airbnb and read a book because I had gotten a little burned the day before and wanted to heal up a bit. After they left, the roaches were back.


I woke up this morning early as I have an ATV tour at 730am. I was determined to make coffee and flipped on the lights. And, you guessed it, roaches. I opened up the fridge and there was a roach in it. I jumped on the Airbnb site, found another Airbnb!!!! I’m moving in today.


Older posts

Upcoming trip! I scored cheap tickets from Nashville to TCI way back in March. In only a few weeks (as I’m writing this), I will be off to beautiful blue water, warm weather, and sunshine—a far cry from the brown, dark, cold weather here in Nashville. I’m staying a little longer than I would have liked, but it was the only way to get the $235 rt tickets.

I will be there for New Year's Eve, though I don’t plan on attending any festivities. Being a solo female, you have to be careful, and being out at midnight with all the drunk people around just isn’t safe for me. I have a $ 79-a-night Airbnb that I am going to be staying at, and I rented a car from Grace Bay Car rentals. I also signed up for Fast Track TCI both arriving and departing, which is supposed to assign me a person to get me through a fast line through immigration. The airport is really small, and since international flights tend to all arrive and leave around the same time you can wait forever to get through customs and immigration. And I hate waiting. So I will see if it's worth the money or not.

I’m debating whether to take a carry-on or not. I have a small, half-size carry-on that can fit under a seat. Normally I would just like to travel with my small backpack, but TCI is so expensive that I want to bring some food with me. And since I will be snorkeling all day every day, I will have my snorkeling mask and tube, plus reef-safe sunscreen, and my camera. So I will have a few more things than normal. There is no way I could fit everything I need in my backpack. I just hate bringing a carry-on.

They drive on the left there. :/ The only time I have driven on the left was back in 96 or 97 in Australia. I only drove for maybe 1/2 mile home. So that doesn’t count. Not only do they drive on the left, but they have no traffic lights, and intersections are roundabouts. And on top of that, most cars are unregistered, the drivers crazy, total disregard for traffic laws. And this is direct information from the government tourism site.

Unfortunately, there is little enforcement of road rules by the police, and this can make driving in the Turks and Caicos unsafe and unpleasant at times. Many cars on the road are not registered, do not have license plates, lack insurance, and are driven extremely recklessly. This is especially common with the operators of illegal jitney taxis, of which the Government does not regulate and chooses not to enforce the rules against. For example, these illegal taxis will stop in the middle of the multi-lane Leeward Highway to pick up passengers and it's common to see road accidents caused by these actions. You are advised to remain vigilant when driving, keep a safe distance, and be prepared to stop suddenly.


Update 12/15 Activities I have planned:

Half Day Sail and Snorkel with Ocean Vibes
Off-road ATV & UTV Adventure in Providenciales


Updated 12/22

Ok, I just added two more activities, including parasailing. I'm fucking terrified. I've watched too many videos on what can go wrong. But you know what? When I'm on my deathbed, I don't want to think "I should have done that'. So, I'm doing it.

Grace Bay Parasailing

I also booked Clear Kayak Drone Photoshoot.

And on my last day in paradise, I am doing
Full Day Beach BBQ Lunch & Snorkeling Excursion in Grace Bay

So I have an activity every day except for Jan 1. But that is OK. On that day, I will go to Grace Bay and chill. I will enjoy the shallow, beautiful water, read my kindle, and relax.

Just 7 more days!!!!


Update 12/25/22. So, I canceled my parasailing because I'm chickenshit. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about my nightmare dreams at night that involve flying/falling and all this seems this is the same thing. No way. So I canceled.

But I did download 2 additional Stephen King books to my Kindle, so I am all set for snorkeling and my Kindle on the beach. For Christmas, I received a waterproof snorkeling bag. I needed this. Since I am going solo, I have no one to watch my stuff on the beach, so I need to take my phone and keys with me.

I *am* taking 2 bags with me, my carry-on (a small, ugly af, mustard poo colored backpack (if you have ever had breastfed kids, you know what I'm talking about) and my small half-size rolling carry-on. Both fit under the seat. I will have all of my electronics (CPAP, chargers, liquids, etc.) in the rolling bag, and my clothes and snorkeling gear in the backpack. Since I will be the last to board (remember, I have the cheap tickets), a lot of times the overhead space is taken up. Because my small backpack is squishable, they usually let me on with that and my under-seat carry-on because it will all fit. But if they want to check something, I will give them my backpack. But again, I pack very light, so it can be squished into the overhead bin.

I am still debating doing "something" on New Year's Eve night. Normally I just sleep through it the best I can, but since I will be in paradise, I want to be on the beach and watch the fireworks up and down Grace Bay. But I am a solo female. And I hate driving at night. My Airbnb is only a mile or so from the beach. I will make that determination once I get there if it is safe for me to go to the beach at midnight (hotels all around so not isolated) and if I feel comfortable driving on the left, in the dark, to get back to my Airbnb.

4 days left! I'm tired of this -1 and snow. Get me outta here!


December 26, 2022

I am so fortunate to receive the Watertrace Waterproof Pack from my inlaws for Christmas. Remember that I am traveling alone, so I have no one to watch my phone, keys, money, etc on the beach while I am snorkeling. This will allow me to leave my Sandcloud Towel and water bottle on the beach, but let me take my cell phone, money, and car keys with me snorkeling. I am just doing beach snorkeling when I'm not on a trip, so I don't mind it will keep me floating. I am very happy about receiving this pack. Thank you to my wonderful in-laws!

I'm part of the Amazon Vine Program, and earlier in November, this iPhone diving case showed up on my feed. I grabbed it, and now I'm anxious to use it when I'm in TCI. I have a GoPro, but this case is for my awesome iPhone with its superior camera. I'm going to use both.

Now it's only 3 more days... 3 more days.... 3 more days till the only white I will see is the beach! I can make it...


Posted by Lumpy4Square 03:00 Archived in Turks/Caicos Islands Tagged turks_and_caicos Comments (0)

St Maarten

View Sint Maarten September 2022 on Lumpy4Square's travel map.

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 x 4
8F all flights

Blue Bubbles ATV Tour, which I didn't get to do
AirBnb Fig Paradis Penthouse

3 Days Before Departure

I booked the tickets in March, so for 6 months I had been planning and dreaming of this trip. I knew I was going during the middle of hurricane season in September, but the tickets were cheap ($245 rt from BNA) and decided to take my chances.

Three days before I was to leave, a tropical storm formed, then it had a name: Fiona. The forecast was for Fiona to hit Sint Maarten on Friday night, September 16th, the day I was to arrive. I asked myself “Do I stay or do I go?” My tickets were non refundable, it was only a tropical storm with max winds of 60mph, the Airbnb host said I would be fine. So I decided to go.


Day 1

I travel with just a small, ugly, mustard yellow backpack, no carry on or checked luggage as I hate waiting for luggage to arrive. I have TSA PreCheck so I breezed through security and made my way to the gate. My flight was to leave at 558am CST, and arrive in Miami at 907 am EST. I had little over an hour layover in Miami, which gave me time to pee and get to my next gate. All the while, I was getting messages from American Airlines saying I can change my travel plans. Of course at this point, I’m not going to change my plans.


The flight from BNA to MIA was uneventful, I was seated in 8F, right behind business class. I picked the window seat, it was a packed plane and the seating was uncomfortable with 3 to a row. In Miami, I made my way to the next gate, the flight ended up being a halfway empty plane and no one sat in my row. Midflight they handed out immigration cards (note to self: bring a pen because airlines don’t seem to offer them anymore, at least AA and JetBlue), borrowed a pen from someone across the aisle. Saw stunning views of various islands, I’m guessing it was Bahamas and Turks and Cacaos, (where I’m going in December 2022).


We landed, and they had a twisty ramp to walk down onto the pavement where you then boarded a bus for a quick 10 second trip to immigration. We got off the bus and the first stop was to show your boarding pass, then the next stop was to show them your QR code from the Electronic Health Authorization System, after that I went to immigration where they asked me the address of where I was staying, and that was it. I was in Sint Maarten! Turns out that my plane was the last to arrive before they closed the airport due to TS Fiona.


I left the tiny airport and found the Avis shuttle waiting spot, it was sunny and humid and I realized that I forgotten my sunglasses so I couldn’t see anything. (Mental note: have sunglasses just for traveling and leave them in my backpack). After a good 20 minutes in island time, the driver showed up and took me to Avis, which was maybe 5 minutes away, if that. I signed all my stuff, got a map, and picked up my car, a SsangYong Tivoli 4×4. The rental was a complete waste of money because due to Tropical Storm Fiona, I didn’t drive anywhere except to my Airbnb and back to Avis, and my Airbnb was only about a mile from the rental car place.


On the way to my Airbnb, I got to drive on the famous road between the airport and the beach, where planes land just feet over your head. Only my plane was the last plane in before they shut the airport down so I never got to see the planes. You can watch a live feed from the Sunset Beach Bar.

I stopped at Maho Market, picked up some wine, veggies, soy milk and a few other things and then headed to my Airbnb. It had a gated driveway, I rang the buzzer, the hosts let me in. They took me up the “winding stairs of death” as I called it, and right as I thought I wasn’t going to make it, I reached the top and saw the most beautiful view ever. By now the wind was picking up, so they showed me around the beautiful penthouse, but most important, how to close the electric hurricane shutters.


I managed to spend an hour or so in the hot tub before the wind and rain started. The wind really picked up, so it was time to get out of the tub. And it was a struggle to get the cover back on. Once inside, I closed the hurricane shutters, poured a glass of wine, fixed a salad, and settled in for the night. I wasn’t worried about the building as it was reinforced concrete, roof and all. Plus the Airbnb hosts were just below me. The wind and rain really kicked in around 9pm. I went to bed and slept really, really good.


Day 2

Noise woke me up around 2am, and I discovered a lot of water coming in from the main sliding glass doors. The hurricane shutters were fine, but the wind was pushing water in any cracks or edges, was getting in the door track, then into the Airbnb. I placed towels around to soak up the water, and went back to sleep. I woke back up at 5am and found more water coming in around the floor by the stove, and the sliding doors to the outside shower. I added more towels, fixed some coffee, and spent a few hours on my phone listening to the wind and rain beat against the house. At 2pm the wind and rain started to die down a bit, so I took the opportunity for a shower. It was my first time using an outdoor shower, it was a bit chilly with the wind and no sun, but I still enjoyed it and wish I lived in a climate where I could have one.
The Airbnb hosts arrived with a mop and bucket to clean up the water, also to sweep up the mirror that broke in the outside shower. That was really the only damage that happened during the storm. They dropped off more towels, made sure I was ok, and left. It was still too windy to get back in the hot tub, so I grabbed my Kindle and a glass of wine, and just relaxed the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t go out because there was a lot of flooding around the island, and I’m not familiar with the roads, so it was better to stay put. I still couldn’t open the front hurricane shutters because of the wind, but I did open the side ones so I got to see outside.

That evening the Airbnb hosts invited me to dinner, which I gladly accepted. They are both private chefs, and I enjoyed lobster and Indian dishes, champagne and wine with them. I had a wonderful night of food, wine, and conversation. One of the hosts is from Trinidad and the other from France. They had engaging stories and it turned out they were the highlight of my trip. They sent me back with left overs which I ate the next day. I went to bed and had another great nights sleep.

Day 3

Woke up at 5am, fixed coffee, ate some left overs and checked the weather on my phone. The winds were supposed to die down in a few hours, so I would finally be able to open the front shutters and get in the hot tub. It was still cloudy and breezy, and unfortunately my last day on the island. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to do anything I wanted, but I knew the risks when I booked a ticket for September. I had planned to take an ATV tour around the island, and then enjoy the rest of the time in the hot tub, read a book, drink a bit of wine and just relax. But experiencing a tropical storm has never happened to me before, so I really didn’t mind the change in plans.

The winds died down enough for me to safely take off the hot tub cover, so I spent the rest of the afternoon until evening in the hot tub, drinking wine and admiring the beautiful view. Later that evening I reluctantly packed up my things, cleaned up the Airbnb, and had another great nights sleep.

Day 4

Woke up at 5am, fixed coffee, looked outside and of course the sun was out for the first and only time during my trip. The water was calm, it was warm, no breeze. The weather I wish I had. I put my stuff in the car, said good bye, and drove on the flooded streets to drop off my car at Avis, which was only a few minutes away. The shuttle brought me to the tiny airport, was the only person in line through customs, got some coffee, and sat at the gate watching the planes arriving and departing.

American’s are so damn loud. Stop being LOUD!!!

The flight to MIA was uneventful, met a couple on the plane who were also going to BNA so we chatted a bit on the plane and during our 4 hour layover in MIA. Got home a little after midnight, and that was the end of my trip.

Posted by Lumpy4Square 15:30 Archived in Saint Martin Comments (0)

Cuba 2022

Trip #2

Trip #2 to Cuba. This time I was prepared since I had been there just a year before. I had to have proof of COVID vaccines as well as a negative test. I provided both and was allowed entry.

After arrival in Cuba with 2 fully loaded suitcases full of necessities for my friends, again, customs and border control didn't check anything, not that I had anything illegal anyway. I was loaded down with food, medicine, clothing for my dear friends. I didn't have to worry about transportation since my friend's friend had a 54 Buick with a diesel boat motor in it ready to take us wherever. That car, which I named "The Beast" chugged along taking us from one place to the next. She put-putted along like she was in the water. If you have ever been to Cuba, you will admire the will of this engine to keep on going.


The first night was at this Airbnb, simply called "2 independent rooms in the heart of Vedado". It was exactly what I needed after coming from snow to tropical weather. It had a mini kitchenette between the rooms. It was enough to make coffee in the morning which is exactly what I needed. I'm not sure why I didn't take any pictures. It *did* have a great location for car watching, and I made this TikTok video:

The next day, The Beast showed up and took us to Guanabo. This is where the locals go and there really are not any tourist hotels here. The Airbnb I picked out was fabulous, called "Mabel Cosy Beach House". It's a beautiful house and property directly on the beach. They have allocations from the government to renovate it, so some things were not available, like the pool. But that is ok, because the location is directly on the beach and is exactly what I needed. The guys had their own room, and I had mine. We shared a bathroom. It had a kitchenette that we made full use of.


I met a lot of really cool people on the beach in front of our Airbnb. I even got brave and had a half naked massage on the beach. The lifeguard station was right in front of the Airbnb and made friends with him. Everyone tries to speak whatever English they know, which made me feel like shit because I don't know any Spanish, but just like meeting people all over the world, we made communication work and we were all smiles.


So when I got my half naked massage on the beach, I never thought about sunscreen. I had some on before he started, but I never paid attention to the fact that he was using baby oil on me. And that still didn't trigger anything in my brain later. Unfortunately, I never reapplied sunscreen after the massage, still not thinking about it, and I got burned to hell. And in Cuba, you can't just run to the corner Walgreens to pick up stuff to cool the sunburn down. There are no stores to go to for relief. The Airbnb host gave me sour yogurt to put on, which I readily did. I smelled so bad, but it did provide temporary relief.


The last Airbnb we stayed at was in Havana, called "Villa MIREY, Sauna&Jacuzzi, Vedado, Habana". I'm not sure what to say about this location. I book Airbnb's mostly based on hot tubs. This one promised a hot tub on the roof and in every room in the house. The house was HUGE and had 3 floors. The architecture was amazing. And the pictures in the Airbnb were accurate. I messaged the host before arrival because I wanted to make sure the hot tub on the roof was ready to go upon our arrival, he assured me it was.

But it wasn't. Not only was the roof top hot tub not available at all, the hot tub in my room took almost an hour to fill, and the mold around the hot tub was so gross that I really didn't want to spend any time in the thing. The guys with me had their own hot tub that they seemed to love, so that was ok. Now I know this is Cuba. Cubans can't find basic food much less mold killing cleaning supplies. I didn't complain because I understand the situation there. But I was disappointed.


All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I got to see my friends again, bring them much needed supplies, and escape the Tennessee snow and cold for tropical weather. My sunburn was so bad that my entire body blew up in one big blister, and I spent my last day on the plane desperately trying to avoid stares and I peeled off my skin and water came dripping down. I was so hot, so itchy, so gross. I apologize to the poor people sitting on the plane next to me. Really, I'm not that gross.


Posted by Lumpy4Square 00:07 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

Springdale, Arkansas 2022

View Arkansas 2022 on Lumpy4Square's travel map.

Travelled to Arkansas with my daughter so she could spend a few days with her DnD friends and I could get a few days out of Nashville. This was my first time on Allegiant and it really wasn’t a bad flight for $35. It's a no frills airline, and if you want a drink or snack you have to pay for it, which I'm fine with. The flight was just an hour from BNA to XNA, the seats were ok, at least in row 4 where we were.


I picked up my Budget rental car, a Jeep Wrangler, which I fell in love with. I am 54 and have always wanted to drive a Jeep Wrangler, and Budget was able to accommodate me. I just absolutely loved driving it. I loved the noise, the handling, the features. And the gas mileage was OK, I used the "start stop" feature, and barely used 1/4 tank of gas for over 200 miles.


We arrived at the Airbnb after dark. When I woke up in the morning, I was surrounded by this, and was in love.

My Airbnb was everything I could have hoped for, and more. The view, the décor, the location was so perfect. It was called "Judy's Cabin" The hot tub was amazing, however, it bleached the shit out of my bathing suit so much I had to toss it. I did let them know they need to get the chemicals under control

The next day, my daughter went off with her friends, and I went on a boat tour from "Beyond the Ozarks" with Captain Al. I got lucky and was the only person on the tour, as a group of 5 cancelled earlier in the day. Captain Al was amazing and left this review of the experience on TripAdvisor and Google:

"I cannot possibly recommend this tour enough, is one of the coolest things I've ever done. Captain Al was extremely friendly, helpful and informative. He has such a passion for his work, he was beyond phenomenal.

The tour was way more than I had expected and we had a wonderful time going around the coves and stopping at different landmarks pointing out features in the area including plants, animals, rocks and fish. He also will tell you about the history of the area, when it was flooded to make the river, and what's underneath the water.

If you are looking for a totally enjoyable 2 hours, please book this. The road to the marina is narrow and twisty so plan accordingly, it's not a straight shot off the highway. You don't have to pay to get to the marina, just tell the guard where you are going."

I made this TikTok video about the tour:

All in all, a very relaxing trip for me, and my daughter had the best time with her friends. We will come back next year. I miss the vibe already.

Posted by Lumpy4Square 21:37 Archived in USA Tagged bridges birds boats nature arkansas airbnb Comments (0)

Niagara Falls, Ontario 2021

View Niagara Falls, Ontario on Lumpy4Square's travel map.

Our goal was to get to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. After 4 years of Trump, I needed OUT of this country. So I booked a 3 day trip with my son. We had to get a negative covid test to enter Canada, but we found a place where you take the test and you get the results about 30 minutes later. We got our negative test, and proceeded to the border from Buffalo. We crossed with no issues and checked into our Airbnb. I liked this Airbnb because it reminded me of where I grew up in Massachusetts. An older house with no central AC, and various apartments.


The day after we arrived, we went to Whirlpool Jet Tours, where we had a reservation. We got masked up, fitted up, and put on a boat. I sadly had to put my camera away at this point. I did make a TikTok video of our trip down the river.


After the awesome trip down the river, we went to take the slow boat trip into the falls. It was a powerful experience.


While there, I visited a local cannabis shop, of which there were dozens!!!!!! Coming from Tennessee where it's called the Devil's Lettuce, it was so wonderful to be able to buy legally and with NO BIG DEAL attached to it. I love Canada!!! We also had Poutine, of which they had veggie poutine. And, of course, I went to Tim Horton's to get some coffee. We also did Axe Throwing, my son beat me the first 2 rounds, but then he got tired and I ended up winning. Yay me!


The next day, we were supposed to leave at 3am to head back to Buffalo, when at midnight I received a message that our flight was cancelled. We left then, arrived at Buffalo airport around 4am. I tried online to change my ticket, no luck. We ended up booking Delta for our flight back, Southwest was nice enough to refund our tickets in the form of vouchers. It cost almost $600 to buy a ticket back to Nashville.


We ended up back in Nashville on the day we wanted, so I guess that was good. And Delta was super fancy compared to our SouthWest flight. Apparently the cancellation happened to thousands of other people, so I'm glad we got back to Nashville in a good amount of time.


Posted by Lumpy4Square 22:32 Archived in Canada Tagged canada Comments (0)

Florida 2021

Where do I begin with this cluster fuck of a trip?

My plan was to see the SpaceX launch with my son. Then my husband said he wanted to go. I booked the tickets, the car, and the Airbnb. For the record, finding an Airbnb that had a hot tub but didn't charge you to heat it, sucked. They fully take advantage of you in Orlando. I hated finding an Airbnb here, and will never, ever come back to Orlando again.

So I found an Airbnb that had the cost of heating the hot tub included. It was near everything my husband wanted to see. My plan was to stay in the hot tub while he did whatever at Disney. I have never had an interest in anything Disney, so he went alone. While in the Airbnb, the smoke detector battery started beeping. We called the number listed, they came and removed the entire smoke detector. Ok. The beds were comfortable, but the hot tub never went above 95. 95!!!! I only booked this Airbnb because of the hot tub. Sigh.


We were supposed to see the Space X launch the next day at like 5am, but they changed the launch time to the next day. I didn't book our Airbnb for the launch change, so I ended up getting a shitty room at the Holiday Inn. I spent the money on an ocean front suite, but it wasn't worth it. The fucking toilet was broken, and to flush we had to hold the valve in the tank. I called twice to the front desk, they did nothing.

We did end up watching the launch from the beach, and in the end it was worth the extra costs, but never again will I go to Orlando.

The launch was amazing. It was at a little before 5am, we went to the beach with hundreds of other people.


Posted by Lumpy4Square 22:10 Archived in USA Tagged florida Comments (0)

Tucson, AZ 2021

View Tucson, Arizona on Lumpy4Square's travel map.

What an absolutely wonderful trip. It was a 3 day trip during Covid. We were both fully vaccinated, and took full precautions on the plane as well as where we went. We didn't do anything "public", like gatherings, museums, etc. We rented a kick-ass Ford Mustang Convertible, it was lime green which I absolutely loved! People kept saying "I love your car!!", but I told them it was a rental and I drive a Kia Soul at home, which elicited some laughs. This is my first convertible, and we learned to turn on the AC at traffic lights, and turn on the heat with the cool desert temperatures in the morning. The cooling seats and AC were perfect during the day, and the heated steering wheel and seats were perfect in the cold desert morning.

The flight was uneventful, had beautiful view of the sunrise the entire way there.


Our Airbnb was so fantastic. The photos made it look like some cheap, western-styled place, but it was not. The decorations, the layout, the furnishings, everything was just fabulous. And the hot tub? The best views ever.


The next day, we went up Mt Lemmon. It was 110° in the valley, but 70° at the top of Mt Lemmon. The drive up was spectacular. We stopped so many times to take pictures and to just take it all in.


My TikTok of the trip.

Posted by Lumpy4Square 21:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Kansas 2021

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Flights were super cheap in March of 2021, and after being cooped up for a year, I needed to get out. I picked Kansas because I hadn't yet been there and needed to scratch that state off my list, and again, flights were cheap. I took my 17 year old son with me, this would be his first flight. We went from BNA to STL to ICT. The flights were uneventful, and we pick up our rental car. I had reserved a Jeep Wrangler, but got a Dodge Charger instead.


We drove 30 minutes to the Airbnb in Hutchinson, KS. The Airbnb and garage was located inside of an airplane hanger (I don't know what else to call it), We spent that night listening to the wind howl, thankfully we had a fabulous place to keep the car safe. It is so windy in Kansas!


The next day we went to Strataca Salt Mine. We went on the Salt Mine Express, The Dark Ride, and The Safari Shuttle. We spent about 3 hours 650ft underground, had fun and we learned a lot about salt mining in the late 1800-early 1900s.


The next day, we left ICT and flew into DEN, then from DEN to BNA. My son did great on his first flight, and since that trip we have taken many more flights together.

My TikTok Video of the trip.

Posted by Lumpy4Square 15:34 Archived in USA Tagged kansas Comments (1)

Arkansas 2021

My daughter wanted to visit some friends in Arkansas, and since I needed to scratch Arkansas off my list, I told her I would love to go there with her. This was her first trip on an airplane. Travelling during COVID is interesting. This was at the beginning of the pandemic, our airfare was $230 round trip first class (!!!). I miss those days lol.


After we landed, we picked up our rental car, which turned out to be a decent car. It was fully loaded and I loved the multiple sun roofs.


Since we had a few hours to kill before our Airbnb would be available, we decided to take a quick road trip into Oklahoma (another state to cross off my list).


We finally got to our Airbnb, which was fabulous. Indoor pool, hot tub, and sauna. The house is situated in a quiet neighborhood on a golf course. And the bed was super comfy.


We visited Wilson Park that had the adorable and eclectic Wilson Park Castle. Bentonville and Fayetteville have a unique vibe to them. The architecture is really amazing.


The next day we went to Crystal Bridges Museum, first stopping to take a picture of the Walmart Museum in Bentonville.


Crystal Bridges was a nice side trip.


My TikTok video of the trip.

Posted by Lumpy4Square 20:20 Archived in USA Tagged arkansas Comments (0)

Cuba March 2019

La Habana, Cuba

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I finally made it to Cuba, and it was just a week before they closed the border due to COVID. It was sort of a last minute trip, a coworker and his wife had a house there and said I can come and stay with them. I scrambled to renew my passport since I have not been anywhere since having my first child in 2000. Their company was provided the plane ticket so no cost to me. I needed a VISA, and I checked "support for the Cuban people" box.


After landing, we walked down stairs from the plane, boarded a crowded bus and was immediately hit by heat and humidity. It felt so good on my skin since I just left a cold state. Customs was easy enough for me, the guy stamped my passport, and they never talked to me or looked through my luggage. My friend, however, went through intense screening. I ended up waiting for him outside of the airport for over an hour.


After my friend finished whatever he needed to do in customs, we got to leave the airport. The cars are exactly as you have seen in pictures of Cuba. These are cars directly outside of the airport.


I also met a new a new friend, who was waiting for us with rum in hand!


We finally left the airport, and I was just taking in all that was around me. Old cars, Soviet cars, pollution, beautiful but in disrepair buildings, palm trees, horses and goats in the road, billboards talking about a Revolution. I don't understand Spanish so I'm not sure what they said. We stopped at a 'grocery store" that had just about empty shelves. I realized that they have limited or no food. Everyone gets a basic family box of food and personal supplies each month from the government, and it really isn't enough. Everyone is thin.


The tap is safe to drink for locals, but not for foreigners. Most people buy bottled water. Bottled water is everywhere, and I can't imagine the environmental impact. In the house I stayed at, they boiled the water, then put it through a water filter system, filled up water jugs and stored it in a refrigerator. I went with a Lifestraw Water Bottle. I did NOT filter the tap water, I filtered the water from the bottles only because I didn't trust anything having to do with the water supply, bottled or not.


All houses have bars on every single window and door. There is hardly any crime in Cuba, I guess this is part of the reason why. I loved the houses. I loved the colors and the simple architecture, and I would love to go around the city with a pressure washer. I swear everyone has a rooster, either in a cage on the roof or a cage in the back yard. All of the pictures are occupied apartments or schools. The decay is due to the continuous embargo. The people don't have access to anything they need; no paint stores, no Home Depot, no Kroger. They do have internet for those who can afford it, but for goods and services, nothing. The longer I was there, the more I felt so fucking bad. Here I am, a fat white person with an iPhone, apple watch and a LifeStraw Go water bottle and not needing for anything in life, and here they stand in line because they heard a shop MAY have chicken.


The house that my coworker owned was spectacular, it was super fancy even by US standards. By Cuban standards, this house is a palace. I loved listening to the sounds of the city at night. The power would go off every day at random hours, but you get used to it, and learn to *always* keep your stuff charged!


We took a quick trip to Guanabo, and it was super nice to be in the water!!! Wish we could have spent more time there.


The Cuban people, despite the embargo and everything, were so welcoming to me. I don't speak or understand Spanish, but everyone greeted me with smiles, handshakes, and cheek kisses, and this was a month before COVID and masks. I am looking forward to going back again, this time with supplies my new friends needs, and to explore more of this fascinating country.

On the plane back, I started to feel like shit. I felt drained. It wasn't a "post-vacation" exhaustion, but something different. Keep in mind, this was a week before the world shut down their borders due to covid. No one even wore a mask at that time, it was just at the very beginning of covid and no protocols in place. I looked like shit on the plane, it happened so fast. I look so bad in this picture. When I got home, I went to the doctor, luckily I just had strep. Probably from all the cheek kissing I did.


A few days after I left, Cuba closed its borders due to covid. I have been so anxious to go back. Life is hard for them, and despite the difficulties and frustrations they have, they are so kind hearted. I made new life long friends and I can't wait to go back and visit them and their wonderful country.

My TikTok of part of the trip.

Posted by Lumpy4Square 00:16 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba Comments (0)

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