Friday, May 29, 2015

There's No Place Like Home

Hey all,

I know it's been a while.  Things got a bit crazy with me and I decided I just needed to take a bit of time off to re-group.  I want to thank those of you who sent me a note or card to wish me well.  It made the crazy a little bit lighter to bear.  :-)

Anyway, I'm hoping to get back on track here in the next month.  Both with this blog and with my FREE READ.  I'll share more about that in the next few weeks.  But for right now I just wanted to share what is going on in CJ's busy life.

As you may remember, Jonathon switched Cirque shows, which started the craziness.  We went from Peru to the USA to England to Costa Rica and back to England all within a few weeks.  Talk about fast and furious moving.  It was so difficult to get everything done, I decided to stop doing some things completely, just to stay sane.

Then, getting used to the way a new show worked plus visiting two of my favorite countries, I knew doing more than the minimum would be too hard, so I made the decision to wait until now.

Why?

Because I've come home.  Home to the good ol' US of A.  And while I adore being overseas and can't wait to get back, I'm totally jazzed about spending the next six months back here in the states.  Just being able to get my coffee chocolate (International Delight Caramel Chocolate -- YUM!!!) and drive my own car?  Priceless.  It's the little things I didn't realize I missed until I got back.

And my kids are closer, which is HUGE.  I can call them whenever I want without worrying about the cost.  Kibitz all I want on their lives.  LOL  Isn't that what a mother does?

We're here in the states through the end of the year.  Right now, I'm writing to you from Colombus, Ohio where we'll be here until early June.  Then we go to Virginia Beach, Virginia, Austin, Texas, and finally, end up our time here in North America by spending Christmas in Vancouver, British Colombia!!!  WooHoo!!!!

And while we've been to all the states in the US, now we can focus our attention on some of the wonderful things to visit in our own country.  For all our travels, we've never been to Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon.  Weird, huh?  But now we can.

Plus, we brought our motorcycle with us and now we can get back to riding.  One of our FAVORITE things to do.  We already have enjoyed a ride through the Smokey Mountains and did another jaunt on the famous Dragon's Tail there in Tennessee.  And on Memorial Day, we celebrated by cruising up the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers.  The weather was perfect and the ride beautiful.  And while Columbus isn't the riding capital of the USA, there are several more interesting places we're looking forward to trying.

So, anyway, I'm back and slowly getting things on track again.  I've missed you guys and am glad to get this blog up and going again.  I'll try and touch base with you guys at least once a week, and more later on.  Right now...I'm just happy to be back and causing trouble.  *smile*
 
I'll see you next week!

Hugs to all!!!!

CJ England









Follow Your Dreams
http://cjengland.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CJsaysFollowYourDreams/

Monday, January 12, 2015

Happy New Year!!!!

Hey all,

Happy New Year!  I'm so glad to be back with you.  It's been a crazy last few weeks as any of you who keep up on my FB messages know.  Suffice it to say that eight plane rides in less than a month was pretty intense.

For awhile I felt like I was living at the airports and I became a total expert at going through security quickly.  I can find each juice bar in a heartbeat and know the placement of the bathrooms in nine different airports.  LOL

Now I'm here in Costa Rica and getting ready to start a new journey.  And since my hotel is waaaaayyyyy out of town I'll probably be spending more time writing than playing tourist.  After all, it's kinda hard to see the different attractions when you can't get to them.

I've been told that a taxi ride into town can cost upwards to US $60 one way, so as you can imagine I'm NOT going to be doing that very often, if at all.  I admit, I'm a little irritated that our hotel is so far out with no transportation other than expensive taxis.  Not sure what they were thinking.  At least in Rio there was a bus.

But, after a quick pity party, instead of pouting, I'll turn that energy towards my writing.  I'll be finishing up some stories I've been working on, as well  as working on my FREE READ.  And working on a few more things I've got up my sleeve.  It's been way too long since I put out something new, but I'm not good at learning new things, and I have to push myself to do so.  So I'm hoping that since I have this down time, it will be a great opportunity to do that learning I've been putting off.

So, look for more of that and less of the travel in the next month.  But once I'm back in London, watch out.  Just wait at what I've got in store for you!  LOL

By the way, I must apologize for the weird posts that have popped up the last week.  I have NO idea what blogger was doing, but it put out both unscheduled posts AND old ones.  So, so sorry!

Anyway, I'll try to get back to my once a week post, starting next week.  *cross your fingers*  You all have a great Monday and may your New Year be a blessed one.

Hugs,
CJ England

http://cjengland.com/standalones/frostytherealman100x154.jpg




Friday, November 7, 2014

Every Day is a Journey, and the Journey Itself is Home

Hey all,

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the road trip we took during our trip in the south of Peru.  It was an amazing journey and filled with memories we will hold dear forever.  This life we lead is such a blessing.  Difficult in some ways, but as long as I have my sweet baboo with me, I can do anything.

The hardest part is not being around our kids.  It was easier when they were all in Orlando--we could visit them all at the same time.  Now they are all spread across the country, and it makes it a challenge.

But it's worth it.  I'll do anything I can to spend time with them when I have a chance.  And I'd rather be traveling now when there are no granbabies.  Once those start popping out, I'm pretty sure I'll be drawn back home like a slightly crazy granny moth to those beautiful precious lights.  And with three children, who knows how many I'll wind up with!!!

Now I promised you all some news.  It's good and exciting, but in some ways difficult.  But that's life, isn't it?

Anyway, this time next month we'll have been with Cirque du Soleil for three years.  Wow, the time flies!!!!  For the most part we've loved being on tour and don't regret the decision.  Corteo is a great show and we've met some wonderful people.  Cirque as a company takes decent care of their people, and it's REALLY cool to get paid to travel all over the world.

With Corteo we've been to many places in Europe and all over South America, but all things must come to an end and so does our time with Corteo.

Jonathon has accepted a new position with Cirque, with a new show.  The new show is called KOOZA, and we'll be touring first in London and then Bern, Switzerland.  And then we're coming right back to South America and start that tour all over again!  LOL

That part we just kind of sighed over, since we'd just finished down here, but since there were several things we didn't get to do, we decided it wasn't such a bad thing.  AND the best part of going on this new tour is that once we're done with South and Latin America, there is a good chance we may go on to Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia!!!  So even more traveling!  Woot!!!!

So all you readers in the UK, I'll be visiting (just for a short time) you first.  We'll be spending Christmas in London, then travel to Costa Rica so Jonathon can train his replacement, then head back to London in February.  At that time we'll be staying with Kooza full time.

Now the even better news is that once we get back to South America, since we've been there before, I won't spend so much time wandering.  That means I'll get to do more writing.  Double Woot!!!  It will be so nice to get back to it!  I've gathered tons of great ideas and hate the fact I haven't had time to put them into a book.

But that will soon be over.

So, the bottom line is, with all the moving and the traveling and the visiting and such, what that means for the next few months is that things will be in a word...CRAZY.  If I told you our schedule while visiting our kids, then moving back and forth between Corteo and Kooza you'd all just toss up your hands and weep for us.  What I'm saying is I'll have no time at all to do much writing or online work.  

I really hate to disappear on everyone--even for just a while, but I can't think of any other way.  I only have so many hours in the day, and I have to put my energies to packing, moving, holidays and seeing my children.

So, for the next few months I will be mostly offline.  I will check in when I can and tell you what I'm up to on this blog when I have time, but my regular weekly blog will be on hiatus until sometime early next year.

I promise I will blog when I can.  It's just it won't be every single Friday.  As for my FREE READ, this Sunday will be the last installment of the current FREE READ until next year.  Instead, I'll be sharing another free story I wrote years ago, CJ's Christmas Party.  It will start on November 16th and go through the end of December.  I hope you check it out.

Anyway, there you have my news.  We're excited, nervous and looking forward to our new life and I promise as we experience it, I'll be here on the blog, letting you all know how things are going.

Until we meet again!!!!


Hugs,
CJ England

http://cjengland.com/standalones/frostytherealman100x154.jpg


Friday, October 31, 2014

Peru Road Trip - Part Two

Hey all,

I'm back with the second part of our trip.  We had a wonderful first three days and the second four where just as amazing.  The Andes were beautiful and very different from the greener Andes we hiked in Chile.  Different, yet amazing.

The high plateaus in the Andes, barren except for the tall grasses and sparse cactus almost echo with loneliness, but they aren't lonely.  There were many animals we saw as we drove through.  Both wild and domesticated.

And as we traveled, we saw things that both impressed and amazed us.  While we didn't LOVE the scenery, because of the type of geography it was, we were still intrigued and curious about what we saw.  Who were these people who could eke out a life in such bleak surroundings?

But the more we traveled, our slight disgust (I admit it, my Western mind saw the ugly and didn't understand the beauty) changed.  We quickly began to respect the people who lived here.  They lived, loved and laughed.  They built homes and communities out of nothing.  They raised their families, governed their people and then, finally died, all the time knowing they had done the best they could for themselves.

We saw empty plains, small villages, lakes and cities and each one showed us something different and amazing about the Peruvian people.  And I look forward to sharing them with you.

So here we go...

We woke up to this view out of our hotel room in Colca Canyon.  Not too shabby, huh?

Our neighbor--a domesticated Alpaca--with the beautiful Andes behind him. I didn't get too close.  He wasn't unfriendly, but I didn't want to get into his personal space.  *smile*

On our way to the Condor Lookout, we  came upon many locals heading to work.  This is just one of a dozen we ran into.

In Colca Canyon they have several valleys with pre-Inca agricultural terraces.  It is an amazing bit of farming.  The terraces are cut into the whole mountain like stacked staircases.

Here I am at the Colca Canyon Condor Lookout Cross.  You can see the sculptured mountains behind me.

 Unfortunately, we didn't see many condors the morning we went, but we weren't too upset.  We'd seen them the previous day as we wandered the high Andes.  Love those unexpected treats.

This pic I got online, so you could see the monument.  Great pic, whoever took it.

 Once we left Colca Canyon, we headed straight to Lake Titicaca.  On the way we drove past the Mirador de los Volcanes which offers views of several volcanoes that soar to more than 20,000 ft.  And before them are thousands upon thousands of wayfarer stones.  It's a pretty cool sight.

And on the way we discovered a wonderful surprise.  We weren't expecting to be able to see Andean Flamingos since we didn't travel in Northern Chile, so seeing these birds grazing in the middle of nowhere was dance worthy!

Not quite as brightly colored as those in zoos because of their diets, but it was still so cool to watch.  And the first time I'd seen flamingos in the wild.

The next morning we woke to the sunrise over Lake Titicaca.  We got up early so we could take a boat trip out to the Uros Islands.  

Not too bad of a view, huh?  Lake Titicaca is as big as the country of Costa Rica.  We could only see a teeny, tiny portion of it.  Even when we were out on the lake.

Our first look at the amazing Uros Islands.  These floating islands are where the Uros people live and their culture is quite unique.   They do everything here.  Live, work and raise their families.

This is the first island we visited.  We got a little lecture about how the islands are built.  Pretty amazing and informative.  You can check it out HERE on this cool blog.

This is the inside of one of the huts on the island.  I tried one of the beds.  Actually it was pretty comfortable.  I was pretty impressed.  Some of them were bigger than the room I live in.  
 The outside of the another, smaller hut.

We took a totora reed boat to the "capital city" of Hananpacha.  That's where the kids go to school, there is a real post office, restaurants and shops.  Primitive, but workable.

As you can see it's much bigger than the smaller island.  These communities may seem odd to us "land dwellers", but I have to say, I thought them quite astonishing.

The next day we visited the UNESCO site of the Santa Catalina Monastery.  I have to say, this is the most amazing place I've been in a long time.  This is a map of the monastery.  As you can see, it's bloody huge!!!!

One of the first courtyards in the convent.  Serene and beautiful, it goes by the name of Silence.

Another courtyard.  The three crosses are another area where the nuns would pray.

 As you can see, they love their courtyards.  I have to say I wouldn't mind being cloistered amongst such peace and beauty.

Most of the rooms had their own kitchen.  Very different than what I expected in a convent.

The living quarters were simple, but comfortable.  Again, very different than what I expected.
The convent had dozens of streets and alleyways.  It really is a small city in itself.

A street scene, one I loved getting on film.

 One last look at Santa Catalina Monastery.  It was a gorgeous, unique and interesting place, and I'm blessed to have had the time to visit.  I'd go back in a heartbeat and spend even more time, it was so lovely.  I think it was the perfect way to end our mini-vacation.


So, there you have it...  Our Peruvian road trip.  We still have a couple of places to visit, the biggest one being Machu Picchu at the end of next month, but this was the biggie.  So many places, so little time.

Plus, things are a changing.  Again.  I'll have more to share on that in NEXT weeks blog.  So stay tuned.  You never know what I'll be up to next!


And on that note... Click on the pic for a special message to my fans!


Hugs to all!!!!

CJ England









Follow Your Dreams
http://cjengland.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CJsaysFollowYourDreams/

Friday, October 24, 2014

Road Trip Peru - Part One

Hey all,

Wow!  What an awesome trip.  Totally different than what we expected, but a trip we'll never forget.  Peru is a beautiful country in it's own way and a contrast in cultures and geography.  While not our favorite kind of scenery, it is lovely, especially if you like the dry desert look.

We had seven days to explore the south of Peru and since it is a lot bigger country than it looks, we had a lot of miles to cover.

We started out in Lima and headed south.  We planned to stay the night in Nazca, home of the famous Nazca lines, so we started out bright and early from Lima.  And the things we saw on the way were pretty amazing.

The land itself is dry and dusty.  I swear, every time I washed our clothes the water almost turned to mud.  *grin*  Seriously.  I've got pictures of the water in the tub and it's almost black, that's how dirty things are on the road.

But it is beautiful.  Sculpted dunes and mountains, flat open plains.  Barren pampas dotted with cactus and grass.  And deserts so empty, it makes your heart ache.

After growing up in the forests of the Sierra Nevadas in California, this dusty, open land was something foreign and at times, almost frightening.  We aren't used to so much open spaces and we pondered as we drove...  Would Peruvians feel claustrophobic if they wandered beneath the mighty redwoods in Northern California?

Pictures are always helpful, so let me show you what we experienced through the visual medium!
 This is what the majority of the Peruvian coast looks like as we traveled south.  Sandy, empty and so dry the goats in the hills are giving powdered milk!

Our first stop was in the legendary Huachachina Oasis.  Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surrounding sand dunes.

And the woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid.  This statue is her memorial.  During the season the surrounding dunes are filled with sand boarders, dune buggies and sand surfers.  We saw a few boarders as we sat at the oasis and had our lunch.  It was a beautiful and restful stop on our way to Nazca.

Our last stop for the day were the famous Nazca lines.  We couldn't go up in a plane (not enough time to research a reputable pilot, so we'll do that next time around), but we were in time to be able to climb the tower and see what you could from the ground.

It's only three stories high, but you can get up to see a few of the famous lines.  Not too well, but well enough!


The tree of life.  I think it's upside down.  But your guess is as good as mine.  What were the ancients / aliens thinking?

This is a little easier to see, especially if you click on it to make it bigger.  A guy with hands upraised.  Or a guy standing on his hands.  You choose.

Our next day we headed down to the tiny town of Chala, Peru.  It was a night's stop on our way to Colca Canyon to see the condors.  But we had a couple of stops to make.  First, we drove into the Andes to see the Pampas Galeras Reserve to see the shy and endangered vicuña.  But on the way we were treated to some beautiful scenery.

The sculpted mountains as we slowly headed up into the park.  Amazing.

Peruvians love their wayfarer stones.  Everywhere we looked we saw them.  A few days later we hit the mother load, but you'll see that next week.

We didn't have to go into the park to see the vicuña.  All at once, there they were.  Hundreds of them.  Apparently they were once so endangered there were less than 3500 left in the world.  Now, due to extensive conservation efforts there are more than 350,000.

And they are so cute.  Even when they are giving you the evil eye.  I wonder if they can spit like camels?

And as a bonus, we were surprised to see these guanaco.  90% of these beasties live in Patagonia, Argentina, so we counted ourselves as fortunate to see these.

At first it was hard to see the difference, but guanacos are darker in the face and have less white on the body.  Their tails are darker too.  You can see the difference if you look at the pics.

One of the best things about traveling is discovering the unexpected.  Just past Nazca is something quite amazing.  Discovered in the 1920’s, Chauchilla Cemetery is a necropolis consisting of mud-brick tombs and mummified remains belonging to the Nazca people, with interments that date between 200 and 900AD.   

After a member of the Nazca culture died, their body was mummified, clothed and painted, then placed in one of the mud-brick tombs that belonged to their family. 

Though many of the mummies are at least 1000 years old, many still have skin and hair attached. 

The incredible preservation of these bodies is due to both the carefully done mummification process and the dry (arid) environment of the Peruvian desert. 

On on down the road we went until we stopped at a VERY tiny resort in the small village of Chala.  It was a beautiful place right on the beach.  That night we heard seals bark as they played in the surf.

We were the only ones there, EXCEPT for the wedding party that was going on that night.  Until 2am.  LOUDLY.  Did you know that Peruvian wedding singers crooning American love songs can cause copious amounts of drinking?  We do.  *smile*
 

We woke up the next day and headed to Colca Canyon, the home of the Andean Condors.  It was going to be a long drive, so we started bright and early after breakfast.  The sea views were interesting.


And the road.  Curvy, to say the least.

How about this for beach front property?  It's got satellite!  We saw dozens of these types of homes dotting the coastline.

As we headed into the mountains we skirted the outside of the town Arequipa, which we'll visit another day.  This is a typical neighborhood in town.  We've seen this type of construction over and over again.

On this day we traveled higher than we ever had before.  We've hiked the mountains near the Matterhorn, biked through the Colorado Rockies and spent a week in Nepal.  But as we drove through the twisting turning Andean mountains, we hit 16,023 feet.

And yes...you can get breathless even if you're only driving through.  We nibbled on Cocoa leaves and took ibuprofen every few hours to countermand the effect of high altitude sickness.  It worked and we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery we discovered.


So that was the first part of our trip.  I'll share the Colca Canyon condors, our adventures on Lake Titicaca, and discovering the beauty of the Santa Catalina Monastery next week!  So come on back and share the adventure with me.

Hugs to all!!!!

CJ England









Follow Your Dreams
http://cjengland.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CJsaysFollowYourDreams/