I’m a shotgun rider. I sit in the passenger seat while my husband drives. However I’m finding that my weight is slowly inching its way up and I worked very hard to lose over 100 pounds in the past five years. I did have weight-loss surgery which made a huge difference in my life but it’s so easy for the weight to come back on slowly inch by inch pound by pound.  This last trip I didn’t want to take any real hikes. I was very lazy. 

I first noticed those pounds coming back on in my thighs. Jeans just tend to fit a little bit tighter. I’m not gonna lie it’s what I’ve put in my mouth. I haven’t always made best choices  And I’m not as active as I used to be but all of that is about to change. 

Some of you may know my obsession with romance books and the authors. I devour books 3 to 6 per week. Thanks to Facebook I’ve gotten to be friends per se with some indie authors and it’s really a close community. It’s also expanded an online friendship with many fellow book lovers. 

Would you believe that I ran across an Indy author who loves softball and she has actually written a romance book that includes softball. 

It’s on my to be read list I actually have a signed copy and softball ball from her. I won it during an online auction for a fellow authors charity. The only reason I haven’t gotten to it yet is because I generally read off my iPad and only read paperbacks when I’m sitting at the pool. 

So back to the weight-loss story so much can do more on my road trips. I was on Facebook a few days ago and this author Facebook page Kristine Dugger mentions wanting to get back into shape. I messaged her with an online challenge request. Being a competitor it’s really hard to do this by myself. 

She responded and believe it or not is writing a blog about her progress too! Now we can blog compete too! Challenge each other in some unique ways with some help from our fans. Even better get our friends ad fans on board to compete and give us challenge ideas! 

We both have a Fitbit so we’ve decided to do the simple challenges even though neither of us really know what we are doing. She started today, I started around 2:00 today. Ok so my excuses are starting already. Pretty sure Kristine is gonna kick my ass today. I’m ok with that. 

You’ve got my blog page, keep following and referring to other friends please. I’m begging for followers. I’m not too proud to beg.

Check out and follow my Challengers blog.  Kristines Blog DAY 1

She’s so brave and posted pictures. I’m jealous. I plan to get some good measurements and ….. so scarey, pictures so we can hopefully see the progress. 
I keep telling myself…it’s a marathon, not a sprint! Wish us luck and let me know if you want to join our Fitbit group.  

Come join me on my new adventure!!!

Day 1 starting weight eeeek.  140lbs,  I was at 125lbs at my lowest 5 years ago. There I womanned up and spilled the beans. Goal is to lose at least 15 would like to hit 115 lbs. 

Like how I hid it all the way at the bottom just for those for those who don’t read the entire article. I surprised ya, huh? 

Halloween at Disneyland

18 days and counting until our annual October trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. AKA Disneyland.  I’ve started packing already. I have to conjure up some Halloween costumes too. Thinking we could all go as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Hmmm……maybe.

Disneyland during the Halloween celebration is magical. I think maybe even more so than during Christmas. Pumpkins everywhere. To make our experience even better we pay the extra fees to attend Mickeys Trick or Treat Party. The special event tickets always sell out. We buy ours in August, shortly after they become available for purchase. 

This special event ticket gives you the right to stay in the park after it closes for everyone without a ticket. They put a wristband on you when you check in and hand you a small bag for truck or treating. It is really tiny so if you attend be sure to bring a backpack. 

Trick or Treat paths are set up throughout the park and they never run out of treats. If you like a certain treat, just keep going back through that path. They don’t care. Occasionally the Treat is sliced apples or bag of carrots. Be sure you separate them from you other candy and snacks as soon as possible. Those fresh items make for a great pick me up snack while walking the park too. 

Another advantage is a special parade, fireworks and …… the villains are out and about for pictures and autographs. We buy a Disney Halloween shirt for the characters to sign with a laundry pen. The lines for the rides are short and sometimes nonexistent. We walked right on to Pirates of the Caribbean and Nightmare Before X-Mas themed Haunted Mansion. One time my youngest son and I ride the Storybook boat ride all by ourselves. That was a very special night. 

This year not only will Disneyland be decorated for Halloween but California Adventure will join into the Halloween spirit. Mater is dressed as a vampire. I’m so excited to see everything. I think that’s one of the great parts of Disney Magic. Finding new things each time you visit. I have an annual pass so I go several times a year always finding something new to me. 

I won’t give away all of the special sites and magic because it really is something you must to see to believe. 

Disney magic is real if you open up and let it in. 

I will report back with updates soon. 

Disneyland, my favorite road trip then and now

Hi. My name is Donna, aka Shotgun Rider,  and I’m a Disney addict. Disneyland is my go to favorite vacation spot. 

I went when I was a little girl. This was a time when you bought ticket books and each ride or attraction required a specific ticket. A-B-C-D-E. see below for a whole book. My mom still has some old tickets somewhere. I’d love to frame them up one day. I remember wearing my Mickey ears and my Donald Duck squeaking duck bill cap. My sister and I  had matching hats. I’m 47 now and have witnessed lots of changes to Dusneyland but the magic has always been there. 

The best rides were “E” tickets. We always ran out of “E” tickets. It was all about the “E” ticket. 

That left the other tickets for the not as fun stuff like the Swiss family Robinson tree house. The tree house is now Tarzans tree house. 

You even needed a ticket for the shooting gallery.These other tickets were ok. They just were not “E” tickets. “A”tickets were the worst and we always came home with leftovers since you purchased the tickets in books. 

The competing amusement parks policy of general admission for the entire park and all rides forced Disney to fade out the tickets in 1981. Most kids today don’t have any knowledge of the old carnival ticket style of getting on rides. The times you just could not go on a ride because you were out of tickets. Thankfully with the general admission fee I have visited Disneyland a lot without the worries of running out of tickets. 
It’s my happy place. I went to celebrate my first year together with my boyfriend in 1989. I went for my honeymoon with the same man in 1991. I go for so many reasons now but mainly because of the magic that surrounds me the instant I see the sign above the archway to enter main street. My breathing changes and I feel the stress release from my shoulders. My smile grows, my eyes sparkle and at times tears sneak out. It’s a feeling I cannot duplicate. 

Fast forward to the present and how I keep the magic new and fun. My family travels to Disneyland at least 3 times a year. We’ve purchased annual passes the past 3 years for the whole family. I am in Disney heaven. This makes each trip relaxing since we are not rushing to get in every ride or having to stand in the long lines. Plus after so many years we’ve developed a fool proof plan to get on the rides we want without the crowded lines. 

In 2006 Hubby bought me a permanent memorial brick which is installed between the entrance gates of Disneyland and California Adventure. We visit it at least once each trip. It makes for a great meeting spot when we separate. “Meet at my brick st 1:30 and we will grab lunch”. It’s a place that’s never crowded and never has a line. 

Even after all of these Disneyland trips we find things to do that are new to us. Rides to go on, sites to see and adventures to take. Disney does update rides and brings in new rides very often. These are not the new parts I am talking about. I’m talking about rides like the canoes, the Mark  Twain steam ship, the Columbia ship. And most recent in California Adventure, the ferris wheel. I was always in a rush to go on other  big rides. I did not want to waste my precious minutes riding in a slow moving boat or paddling a canoe. Our annual passes have made me slow down and experience these classic attractions for the first time. I’m still working my way through all the things I’ve never done. Have you ever taken one of the tours? I haven’t, but I will eventually. 

I won’t go through all the “secret” tips because you can find them on other sites. I will tell you I’ve experienced almost all of them. Still waiting to get a ride inside the Lilly Belle car on the Disneyland Railroad. If you can visit during Halloween and Christmas you will see another side of Disney magic. 

There is also a long of foods I’ve never tried. The Monte Cristo sandwhich in New Orleans Square.  A Bloody Mary from Cathay Circle. A chili mac cone from Carsland. I’m sure there is more and I’ll keep looking and eating my way through all that Disney has to offer. 

You can be sure I will be posting more about Disneyland while I ride my favorite attraction and try some new ones to. My will continue adventures with Mikey Mouse. Next trip planned for October 2017. 

Sharing feedback and comment cards

I spent a few hours after we returned answering emails and completing feedback requests frim hotels, camping sites, restaurants and sightseeing locations from our trip. When you’re staying away from home for 17 days that’s a lot of places to rate. 

Most places were rated as excellent. Some were just ok. A few were completely bad. There is no way I could recommend them. I will go into more details about the individual locations another time. 

Like I said most stays were excellent. I try to complete all of my opinions and experiences. Not just the negative ones. Plus within a negative experience there may have been a bright side. An employee who did everything right but wasn’t able to correct the problem. That employee deserves the recognition for their positive effort. 

I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to an overnight stay. A hotel needs to be clean with clean bedding and have a working toilet, shower and mainly bathtub. I enjoy soaking in a tub after sitting in the truck for so long and especially after hiking around hills or downtown for hours. One day we walked over 15 miles. Yep, I was looking forward to a bubble bath that night. Unfortunately that was the night in Victoria at the lighthouse, no shower or tub available until the following day. 
If I’m camping out then I want flushable,  non-smelly toilets, a clean shower and hopefully quiet time. It’s camping after all so you can’t expect too much. I do my best to not camp near killer beasts like bears. The less bugs the better but that ines hard to control. The location dictates the bug problem. I never needs my Shoo-Fly device so I have no idea if it works or not. I’ll have to try it on our next trip. 

I filled out a few from restaurants after completing our meal as well. 

In my other part time job, these surveys are highly coveted by the corporate offices. Proudly I will say I have a very large number of highly satisfied customers who have completed the feedback email. My employer does offer a discount on the customers next purchase if they complete the survey, but still they are completing it with a positive experience and those positives ones are hard to get. Most customers only write about the negative parts. 

So I ask you:

  • Do you fill out feedback forms? 
  • Do you only fill them out if you get a freebie or discount by providing your experience?
  • Do you only fill them out for negative experiences? 
  • How important do you think these feedback requests are and do you think they make a difference? 

Ironically while writing this blog I just received another hotel Etsy feedback request. Off to complete that one while it’s fresh in my mind. Incidentally it was a positive experience. 

I’ll let you know if I get any responses from my recent road trip. 

    Kellogg, Idaho…. I’m hungry

    Traveling through Idaho my stomach was rumbley. I was starving. Not a whole lot of choices that were not fast food restaurants. Seeing the signs for a small town up ahead with a sign for Sam’s, we took the next exit. 

    It looks like an old drive-in. Covered parking where you can imagine roller skating waitresses carrying burgers and fries to waiting customers. Walking in the doors I saw a hometown dinner filled with locals. As new customers came in they were greeted by their first name. I think the tables and booths could handle about 60 customers. I loved the atmosphere. 

    Hubby and I first noticed the table had 4 types of Tabasco sauce. 

    They search breakfast, lunch and dinner. Searching the menu I decided on an omelet and hubby ordered a burger and tots. 

    Do you see that pile of tots? My omlete was huge. I saved 2/3 of it for dinner. Hubby ate his whole burger and the tots with his new favorite Tabasco sauce, Sweet & Spicey. I felt guilty because he used half a bottle. I’ve never seen that sauce locally. It almost rd tasted like a spicy BBQ sauce. I’ll have to search the internet for some. 

    The servers were friendly and provided fast, attentive service. The decor is fun andreminded  me of a country style kitchen. In fact it reminded me of my grandmas kitchen. The windows surrounding the booths and tables, let in the bright sunshine. Everyone was smiling, 

    The prices are very reasonable and the food was great.  

    Check them out on Facebook ~

    If you’re driving through be sure to stop in for a delicious and filling meal. Tell them you heard about them from me. Be sure to let me know about your experience too! 

    Wild Oaks Grill BBQ

    Day 3 was spent doing a lot of driving on Highesy 101. We were headed to Cape Outlook State Beach for the evening. 

    It was lunch time so hubby and I were debating, not arguing yet, about where to eat. We passed several diners & small cafes before making a u turn at the BBQ sign. We love BBQ on road trips..

    Wild Oakes Grill. Port Orford, Oregon 

    They are On Facebook. Check it out. 

    On the window I read “veteran owned and operated” (US Navy) and I smiled. What a great find. Just another reason I want to eat here. 

    Upon  walking in I noticed an empty table fully set up with complete place settings and American flags. On the chair is a POW drape. It is set in remembrance of our missing and fallen military men and women. This memorial originally started during the Vietnam war. It is a very powerful sight.  Make this now a 3rd reason finding this place made my day.  Learn more about the missing man table here.

    Our waitress, Amanda, told us about our choices and specials of the day. A sandwich called 3 pigs and a cow was a tempting option but we decided on the 5 meat plate. Of course I want to taste it all. The smoked meat consisted of: brisket (my favorite), park ribs, pulled pork, chicken, and tri-tip. We added smoked mac & cheese and smoked chili. For dessert we had a fresh warn brownie topped with cherry pie filling.

    I asked for some BBQ sauce but soon realized I did not need it. The meat was moist and delicious without any sauce. I always put sauce on my BBQ. Not this time. The flavor in each of these meats was amazing. I don’t like fake, overly smoke flavored meat. This was cooked to perfection. I still added a little bit of sauce to change it up but trust me no sauce was best. 

    The mac & cheese had bits of smoked meat folded in. The chili was spicy with shredded meat, topped with crispy fried jalapeƱos. Everything exceeded my expectations.

    A perk of eating at small places is getting to meet owners, cooks, other diners etc. part way through our meal the owner and BBQ Pit Master Rob came out for I’m the kitchen to ask how we liked our meal, and sat down at a table nearby to chat. After I gushed over how much I lived the food, Rob told us some stories of his travels. He even gave me some ideas for future road trips. 

    Our waitress Amanda came out with the simple chocolate brownie with the cherries. Hubby and I fought with our spoons to be first to taste. In case you were wondering, I won. I agree with Rob, it’s such a simple dessert but tastes like chocolate bliss. The cherries add a tart note which cuts the sweetness perfectly. 

    Amanda helped us pack up our leftovers for tonight dinner. 

    If your ever passing through Port Orford, Oregon, be sure to stop in, say Hi to Rob and Amanda. Tell them Shotgun Rider sent you. You won’t regret stopping for a bite.

    Great people, even better food! 

    Air Jordan, pizza!

    My absolutely favorite pizza is an hour drive away for me. Oh it’s so worth it. Pizz’a Chicago in San Jose, CA. I first had this pizza over 20 years ago. Hubby brought me dinner one night and I was hooked.

    The Air Jordan is a simple deep dish cheese, tomato, garlic and basil pizza. It’s the lightest “airiest”, if that’s even a word, pizza I’ve ever tasted or seen. 

    The decor inside the resturant is full of signs and sports memorabilia. We try to make the trip every few months or so. It’s just so worth it. 

    Today we sat outside in the shade. Puzz’a Chicago is located in a small strip mall next to a bakery.   

    I am only able to eat one piece but it makes for an awesome before bedtime snack.