Category Archives: Life

Amelia Island

Previous “new thing” posts have reported about girls’ weekend, one of my original 50 new things.  This year’s trip is to Amelia Island, Florida which is a new destination city for me although I have been to Florida many times. I fly to Atlanta and meet my friend who lives in Atlanta so we can fly together to Jacksonville, Florida. 

The Omni Plantation Resort has all the ingredients for a wonderful girls’ weekend: warm weather, ocean views, walking paths, shopping and great food.  We have the added bonus this year of ocean front property so we can walk on the beach.  The weather is so gorgeous and it feels good to sleep in. 

I am grateful for any time I can walk on the beach. I love Island colors and seashells. 

You can’t beat doing next to nothing with a dear friend in 80 degree sunshine!!! What a great, fun and relaxing weekend. 


Donaldson’s Chocolates

This is a quick “new thing” post to encourage you once again to stop by those spots you drive by hundreds of times, thinking that you will stop and visit another day.  I’ve driven by Donaldson’s chocolates on I-65 in Indiana literally hundreds of times for years.  I love chocolate and have wondered about this small business but never stopped.  Usually we are in a hurry to get home or it is past closing time.  

On Valentine’s Day, I was in Lafayette for work from 9:00 – 12:00 and had a few minutes to stop on my way back to the office.  This was a quick stop to select a small box of chocolate for my husband and sons. The friendly staff gave me a sample and I picked my favorite – coconut haystacks. Yum! 

What attraction or business have you driven by a hundred times in curiosity?  Make a stop!

Virtual Reality 

I have an unexpected “new thing” this week.  Our department has a staff retreat every year at the community room of a property funded by our Affordable Housing Program grants.

After continuous improvement, team building, goal setting, naming our new online portal and lunch, we end the day with a fun activity courtesy of our database manager – we get to experience virtual reality.

I intend to pass on the activity.  I don’t want future staff retreats to include comments such as, “Remember when our department head threw up on us after virtual reality?”  But one of our analysts convinces me that the ocean diving experience does not make you feel motion sick so I decide to play along.

This is fun and cool and amazing!  I had no idea you could turn 360 degrees and see images all around.  I’m in a diving cage descending the ocean with fish and sting rays and colorful jellyfish.  I feel brave enough to peer over the edge of the diving cage. 

Very fun!  What have you done recently to get out of your comfort zone?

Indy Car Ride

My next “New Thing” is unplanned and unexpected.  I ride in a street legal Indy car. 

I am fortunate enough to work for a company that holds a nice holiday party for staff and guests. We all get dressed up and enjoy a nice meal together with some door prizes for fun.  Our 2016 event is at the Dallara car factory in Speedway, Indiana.  Did you know the Indianapolis 500 is technically in Speedway rather than Indianapolis?

The venue has some Indy 500 race displays and racing simulators.  There is also the opportunity to ride in an Indy car.  I know that my husband really wants to do this so I try to be a good sport.  Then I try to back out and sacrifice my spot for the sake of the long line but I don’t get away with that.  The staff puts a helmet on my head and  buckles me into the car!

We drive a few blocks and through a roundabout before returning to the party center. It’s not as bad as I expected, in fact, not bad at all!!  The hardest part is getting out of the car in a dress and heels…

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!!

Indianapolis Light Festival

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Foundation, Central Indiana Community Foundation, in partnership with Northern, presented IN Light IN, a free, two-night interactive light festival. We happened to participate following dinner on our 28th wedding anniversary. 

We walk the portion along the Central Canal so we see all but six of the artist projects.  The first project is ST/X which is interactive and projects the movement of people on a platform onto the lights in the canal.  I’ve never seen anything like this – such a cool mix of art and technology.

Another exhibit, 2058: the first September without ice, is designed by one of the teachers at University High School.  It floats in the center of the canal.  

The event is popular and brings many people downtown to walk the canal and ride paddle boats.  

Here is another artist project floating in the canal, Droplet’s Formation II.  

Several of the exhibits are interactive.  Geophone can be heard if you put your ear to the ground where the lights are.  Here is my husband checking out this exhibit.  

The last exhibit that I take a photo of is The Illuminated Reef.  

Pretty cool! Are you inspired to create?

Mount Rushmore

As shared in my previous post, our 2016 vacation is a “new thing” as we travel to South Dakato. My bucket list item to see Mount Rushmore is the genesis of this trip so it deserves its own post.

We have absolutely gorgeous weather the morning we visit this National Memorial.  I arrived expecting the memorial to be cool and was not disappointed.  Mount Rushmore is so impressive.  We buy the guided audio tour and learn a lot of information as we walk the trail.  We learn about the extensive process used to carve the faces. We learn about the selection of George Washington as a founder, Thomas Jefferson to represent the growth of our country, Abraham Lincoln for preservation and Theodore Roosevelt to represent development.  

In the evening, we return to Mount Rushmore and sit in the amphitheater for the lighting ceremony which is very inspirational and patriotic.  After viewing a movie about the memorial, all the veterans and active duty men and women in the audience are invited on the stage to introduce themselves.  

Who are the heroes in your life?

South Dakota

Our 2016 family vacation is to a part of the country that none of us has ever visited – South Dakota.  We drive in our rented mini van from Indianapolis through Illinois and Iowa and Minnesota into South Dakota with our first stop in Sioux Falls.  

Falls Park in downtown Sioux Falls is really cool! I love waterfalls anyway and we enjoy walking around the park on a gorgeous morning.  After lunch, we tour the Great Plains Zoo which is fun since it has been a while since the four of us went to a zoo together.  The Blue Angels are in Sioux Falls for their Air Show and we see them flying in formation which is so amazing.  

On our third day, we drive from Sioux Falls to Rapid City.  We stop briefly in Mitchell at the Corn Palace despite some teenage grumbling. It’s just so goofy that you have to stop!  Our next stop, however, makes the drive worth while – The Badlands National Park.  It is amazing how just the right set of natural factors can create something beautiful that is unique to this part of the world. 

For our first full day in Rapid City, we visit Mount Rushmore on an absolutely gorgeous morning.  Here is one photo and then Mount Rushmore will have its own blog post.  We also have lunch in Hill City and visit the still in progress Crazy Horse memorial.  All very scenic and very interesting.  

The next day we visit Custer State Park.  The drive is very scenic with more interesting views of Mount Rushmore.  We drive the wildlife loop and see bison, burros, white tailed deer, and prairie dogs.  Unfortunately we did not see as much scenery as might have been possible since we were caught in a rain storm complete with hail!  After our late lunch, the skies return sunny and we hike part of the Centennial Trail for an hour.  The park is so quiet and our hike is beautiful. 

Our final day in South Dakota is mostly rainy in the morning.  We visit Deadwood and find the old mining town not as quaint as expected.  The weather cooperates in the late afternoon for us to gain another perspective on the Black Hills – the perspective of horseback as we enjoy a beautiful trail ride.  


Since I usually blog about food, I will mention that we ate well on vacation, especially in Rapid City.  Even someone who rarely eats beef can eat well out West.  I enjoyed lots of salmon and some sea scallops.  I liked the bison burger I ate at Custer State Park and it was less greasy than a hamburger.  In Rapid City, I recommend Murphy’s Pub, Boticelli’s for pasta, Kol with its coal-fired oven and Delmonico’s for French onion soup.

Now – what can you cross off of your bucket list?